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Dtan and iVo/easor 0/ New Testament and Chm-ch History 
Hiram College 


Faculty of Political Science 
Columbia University 





Dean and Professor of New Testament and Ohwch History 
Hiram College 


Faculty of Political Science 
Columbia University 






Copyright, 1918 



J. E., R. W., AND R. F. 


Introduction . . . 

The Undermining of Puritan Standards and Institutions 

1. Rapid Disintegration of Puritanism after the Revolution. ... 13 

2. Ominous Discontent with the Standing Order 33 

3. Alarms due to the Spread of Religious Radicalism and Scepticism 66 


Political Entanglements and Hysteria- 

i. The Situation prior to 1798 . . . . . ... 103 

2. The Situation from 1798 to 1800. 122 

The European Order of the Illominati 

1. The Rise and the Disappearance of the Order . 142 

2. The Legend of the Order and its Literary Communication to 

New England. . r86 

The Illuminati Agitation in New England 

1. Morse Precipitates the Controversy . . . . . . 

2. Inconclusive Developments of Morse's Second Formal Deliv- 229 

erance . . . . .... 261 

3. Morse Submits his Inept Documentary Evidence 287 

4. Freemasonry's Embarrassment and Protest . . 321 

5. Attempts of Democrats to Fix the Countercharge of Illuminism 

upon the Federalists ... 345 

Bibliography ■ .361 

5] 5 


The obligations incurred in the preparation of the fol- 
lowing study are much toO' numerous and varied to admit 
of adequate notice. Special mention must, however, be 
made of my indebtedness to the staffs of the following 
libraries: The Boston Athenaeum, Congregational, Ma- 
sonic (Boston), American Antiquarian Society, Connecti- 
cut Historical Society, New York Historical Society, Li- 
brary of Congress, the public libraries of the cities of Boston 
and New York, the library of Hiram College, and the 
university libraries of Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. In 
addition to the many courtesies received from these sources, 
I have had valuable assistance from the following persons : 
Mr. Newton R. Parvin, grand secretary of the Grand Lodge 
of Iowa, A. F. & A. M., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, whose warm 
personal interest in my investigation has found expression 
in the loan of many valuable volumes ; Mr. Worthington C. 
Ford, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, who besides 
opening freely to me the unpublished treasures of the So- 
ciety, has given me the benefit of peculiarly stimulating sug- 
gestions; Mr. Walter C. Green, librarian of Meadville 
Theological School, who has most generously met all my 
drafts upon his patience and time ; and Professor Guy Stan- 
ton Ford, of the University of Minnesota, who has made 
it possible for me to use his copy of Forestier's Les Illumines 
de Baviere et la Frcmc-Magonnerie allemande, without which 
in this war period, with its partial stoppage of the inflow 
of European literature, my chapter on " The European 
Order of the Illuminati " could scarcely have been written. 
7] 7 


My greatest debt is to Professor William Walker Rock- 
well, of Union Theological Seminary, who from the day 
that he suggested the theme not only has followed the pro- 
gress of the work with unwearied interest, but at many 
points has guided my efiforts and helped me to avoid numer- 
ous pitfalls. Whatever excellencies the study contains are 
due to Professor Rockwell's stimulating criticism ; the faults 
are altogether chargeable to me. 

There remains to acknowledge my obligation and express 
my best thanks to my colleagues, Professors Ralph Hins- 
dale Goodale, Lee Edwin Cannon, and John Samuel Ken- 
yon, and to Miss Bertha Peckham, Registrar of Hiram 
College, who have greatly assisted me by correcting copy, 
reading proof, and otherwise helping to see the work 
through the press. To my wife a special obligation is due 
because of the benefits derived from her critical insight and 
heartening sympathy throughout the performance of the 
task. V. S. 

Hiram, Ohio. 


Few if any periods in our national history have been 
marked by a greater variety of clashing interests than the 
closing decade of the eighteenth century. Owing in part 
to inexperience in grappling with the problems of govern- 
ment, in part to widely belligerent and irreconcilable ele- 
ments among the people, in part to grave international com- 
plications and concerns, and in part, confessedly, to rumors 
and excitements for which, as events proved, no adequate 
grounds existed, the lives of the people of New England 
were tossed rudely about on rough currents and counter- 
currents of mingled hope and angfuish. To a dispassionate 
observer (if anywhere on the green earth at the close of 
the eighteenth century such an individual might have been 
found) it must have seemed as though the citizens of 
New England were as so many bits of wood, bobbing up 
and down on waters excessively choppy but otherwise 
motionless. The agitation, however, was not merely super- 
ficial; issues and movements of the most profound signifi- 
cance were pouring their impetuous torrents through 
channels freshly cut and steadily deepened by new streams 
of human interest which the erection of the national gov- 
ernment, in particular, had started on their tortuous ways. 

The development of this thesis calls for an evaluation 
of the more significant elements and forces which gave to 
the period the characteristic tempter of nervous excitability 
by which it was stamped. The profound spirit of appre- 
hension, amounting to positive distress, with which for 
many a thoughtful religious patriot of New England the 
eighteenth century closed, constitutes a phenomenon as im- 
9] 9 


pressive as it is curious. To isolate that spirit, to analyze 
it, to explain its genesis and its development, to take account 
of its attachments and antipathies with respect to the special 
interest under consideration, — this must be regarded as no 
inconsiderable portion of the general task. 

On the morning of May 9, 1798, in the pulpit of the New 
North Church in Boston, and on the afternoon of the same 
day in his own pulpit at Charlestown, the occasion being 
that of the national fast, the Reverend Jedediah Morse ^ 

^ Reverend Jedediah Morse, born at Woodstock, Connecticut, August 
23, 1761, died at New Haven, June 9, 1826, was a man of note. He was 
the author of the first American geography and gazetteer. His con- 
nection with the leading public men of his times, particularly with those 
of the Federalist party, was both extensive and intimate. His travels 
and correspondence in the interests of his numerous geographical com- 
positions in part promoted this acquaintance; but his outspoken and 
unflinching support of the measures of government during the Federal- 
ist regime did even more to enhance his influence. Morse was gradu- 
ated from Yale College in 1783 and settled at Charlestown as minister 
of the Congregational church in that place in 1789. His wife was 
Elizabeth Ann Breese, granddaughter of Samuel Finley, president of 
the College of New Jersey. Quite apart from all other claims to public 
recognition, the following inscription, to be found to this day on a 
tablet attached to the front of the house in Charlestown wherein his 
distinguished son was born, would have rendered the name of Jedediah 
Morse worthy of regard : 

" Here was born 27th of April, 1791, 
Samuel Finley Breese Morse, 
Inventor of the Electric Telegraph." 

W. B. Sprague's Annals of the American Pulpit, vol. ii, pp. 247-256, 
contains interesting data concerning Morse's activities and personality. 
Sprague also wrote The Life of Jedidiah Morse, D. D., New York, 1874. 
(Morse's surname appears in the sources both as "Jedediah" and 
"Jedidiah"). Sawyer's Old Charlestown, etc., p. 299, has an engaging 
account of Morse's loyalty to the cause of Federalism, and of the pain- 
ful, though not serious physical consequences, in which in at least one 
instance this involved him. Cf. also Memorabilia in the Life of Jedediah 
Morse, D. D., by his son, Sidney E. Morse. A bibliography of thirty-two 
titles by Morse is appended to the sketch in F. B. Dexter, Biographical 
Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, vol. iv, pp. 295-304. 


made a sensational pronouncement. He first discussed with 
his hearers " the awful events " which the European lUu- 
minati had precipitated upon an already distracted world, 
and then proceeded solemnly to affirm that the secret Euro- 
pean association had extended its operations to this side of 
the Atlantic and was now actively engaged among the people 
of the United States, with a view to the overthrow of their 
civil and religious institutions. In the eyes of the distin- 
guished clergyman, the matter was of such serious moment 
that he felt moved to remark : 

I hold it a duty, my brethren, which I owe to God, to the cause 
of religion, to my country and to you, at this time, to declare 
to you, thus honestly and faithfully, these truths. My only 
aim is to awaken in you and myself a due attention, at this 
alarming period, to our dearest interests. As a faithful watch- 
man I would give you warning of your present danger.' 

Morse's warning by no means fell upon deaf ears. The 
" due attention" he claimed for the alarm which he that 
day sounded was promptly and generally accorded. Soon 
ministers were preaching, newspaper editors and contribu- 
tors writing, and clearheaded statesmen like Oliver Wolcott, 
Timothy Pickering, John Adams, and even the great Wash- 
ington, inquiring, and voicing their serious concern over 
the secret presence in America of those conspirators whose 
greatest single achievement, a multitude had come to be- 
lieve, was the enormities of the French Revolution. 

It is true that before two years had passed men generally 
began to admit the baseless nature of the alarm that Morse 

' A Sermon, Delivered at the New North Church in Boston, in the 
morning, and in the afternoon at Charlestown, May 9th, 1798, being 
the day recommended by John Adams, President of the United States 
of America, for solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer. By Jedidiah 
Morse, D. D., Minister of the Congregational Church in Charlestown, 
Boston, 1798, p. 25. 



had sounded. None the less one may not dismiss the inci- 
dent with the light and easy judgment that it signified noth- 
ing more than the absurd fears of a New England clergy- 
man who, under the strain of deep political and religious 
concern, and after a hasty reading of the latest volume of 
religious and political horrors that had just arrived from 
Europe,^ rushed into his pulpit and gave utterance to pre- 
posterous statements which his imagination for the moment 
led him to believe were justified. The episode has con- 
siderably larger and more important bearings. No man 
could possibly have awakened such wide-spread concern 
as the minister of Charlestown succeeded in awakening if 
it had not been true that significant concurrent and related 
circumstances gave both setting and force to the alarm which 
with such stout conviction he sounded. 

What previous influences and events had tended to pre- 
dispose the public mind favorably to Morse's alarm? 
What was the peculiar combination and cast of events which 
gave the notion of a conspiracy against religion and gov- 
ernment in Europe and in America a clear semblance of 
truth? In what ways, and to what extent, did the alarm 
affect the lives and the institutions of the people of New 
England? Finally, what were the grounds, real or imag- 
inary, upon which the charge of an Illuminati conspiracy 
rested? To answering these questions the following pages 
are devoted. 

^ Robison, Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and 
Governments of Europe, carried on in the Secret Meetings of the Free 
Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies, Edinburgh, 1797. 


The Undermining of Puritan Standards and 

I. rapid disintegration of PURITANISM AFTER THE 

Back of the War of Independence was the less absorbing 
but scarcely less harrowing contest of the French and Indian 
War. Thus for a period of fully thirty years the people of 
New England had been subjected to the rough and un- 
settling experiences of military life. This consideration, 
taken in connection with the fact that a growing declension 
from the standards of the Puritan fathers had been the 
occasion of increasing comment and concern from the 
middle of the seventeenth century on/ will make explicable 

1 An early and yet typical example of this unfavorable view of the 
moral and religious life of the people after the first generation of the 
Puritans was gone, may be found in The Result of 1679, — a document 
prepared by the Synod in response to directions from the Massachu- 
setts General Court, calling for answers to the following questions : 
" What are the euills that haue provoked the Lord to bring his judg- 
ments on New England? What is to be donn that so those euills may 
be reformed?" The following brief excerpt from The Result supplies 
the point of view: "Our Fathers neither sought for, nor thought of 
great things for themselves, but did seek first the kingdom of God, 
and his righteousness, and all these things were added to them. They 
came not into the wilderness to see a man cloathed in soft raiment. 
But that we have in too many respects, been forgetting the Errand 
upon which the Lord sent us hither; all the world is witness: And 
therefore we may not wonder that God hath changed the tenour of 
his Dispensations towards us, turning to doe us hurt, and consuming us 
13] 13 


the fact that the average citizen of New England emerged 
from the Revolutionary struggle with the edge of his con- 
science dulled. The secularizing spirit of the post-Revolu- 
tionary period, when questions of national organization and 
unity, of the rehabilitation of commerce and industry, and 
of international relations and policies were foremost in the 
thought of the day, left marks upon the human spirit over 
which stem and rigorous adherents to the old order wept 
copiously and long. For one thing, the lives of the men and 
women of New England were never again to be as barren 
of diversified interests as they had been in the past. The 
successful issue of the struggle for political independence 
had so enlarged the mind of the common man that he of 
necessity entertained considerations of private desire and of 
public policy which he formerly would have rejected en- 
tirely. The avenue of retreat to the ancient simplicity and 
seclusion was forever closed. 

The soundness of this estimate of the rapid disintegra- 
tion of Puritanism will be apparent if the changing attitude 
of the people on the subject of theatrical entertainments is 
considered.^ As early as the year 1750 the General Court 
of Massachusetts had found it necessary to enact legislation 
to prevent stage-plays and other theatrical entertainments.* 
That Puritan standards dominated the situation at the time 
is evidenced both by the reasons advanced by the f ramers 
of the law for its enactment and by the stringent penalties 

after that he hath done us good. If we had continued to be as once 
we were, the Lord would have continued to doe for us, as once he 
did." The entire document, together with much valuable explanatory 
comment, may be found in Walker, Creeds and Platforms of Congre- 
gationalism, pp. 421-437. Backus, History of New England, vol. i, pp. 
457-461, contains a group of similar laments. 
^ Snow, A History of Boston, p. 333. 

2 Weeden, Economic and Social History of New England, vol. ii, 
p. 696. 


attached to it. The justification of the measure was found 
in the economic waste, the discouraging effect upon industry 
and frugahty, and the deleterious effect upon moraHty and 
religion which stage-plays were believed to exercise. The 
penalties imposed called for a fine of twenty pounds upon 
any owner of property who permitted his property to be 
used for such purposes, while a fine of five pounds was to 
be assessed upon any actor or spectator found in attendance 
upon or participating in any such exercises where more 
than twenty persons were assembled together.^ How meekly 
the craving for pleasurable excitement bowed its head in 
submission, there is no evidence to show ; but it is very clear 
that as the century drew toward its close the people of 
Massachusetts began to manifest a decidedly intractable 
spirit with respect to legislative control of their amusements 
and pleasures. 

The days of the Revolution supplied thrills of their own, 
and the colonists gave themselves in devotion to their great 
task-at-arms, with little desire for the amenities of life. 
Accordingly, when the Continental Congress, on October 
16, 1778, passed a resolution deprecating every species of 
public entertainment which would be likely to divert the 
minds of the people from the considerations of public de- 
fence and the safeguarding of their liberties,^ there was 

^ Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of Massa- 
chusetts Bay, vol. iii, pp. 500 et seq. The Preamble of this Act is 
highly interesting : " For preventing and avoiding the many and great 
mischiefs which arise from publick stage-plays, interludes and other 
theatrical entertainments, which not only occasion great and unneces- 
sary expenses, and discourage industry and frugality, but likewise tend 
generally to increase immorality, impiety and a contempt for religion, — 
Be it enacted", etc. 

'^ iSeilhamer, History of the American Theatre, vol. ii, pp. 51 et seq.; 
Winsor, The Memorial History of Boston, vol. iv, ch. v : " The Drama 
in Boston," by William W. Clapp, pp. 358 et seq. 


nothing singular about the episode, and we may believe 
readily that the people of New England, fortified by their 
grim spirit of determination and their long tradition of self- 
denial, in no sense fell short of the general standard. But 
by the year 1 790 the people living in and about Boston had 
come to a very different state of mind. In that year by 
petition to the General Court they sought to have the pro- 
hibitory act of 1750 revoked.^ The incident has importance 
because it registers a determined effort to feed desires whose 
hunger-pains had grown insistent. 

The history of this particular effort to remove legislative 
restrictions in the way of harmless amusements is illuminat- 
ing. The petition referred to received scant consideration 
at the hands of the legislators of Massachusetts. The fol- 
lowing year certain gentlemen of Boston, to the number of 
thirty-nine, presented a memorial to the selectmen of that 
city, requesting that a vote of the citizens be taken on 
the questions of permitting the erection and use of a build- 
ing for theatrical entertainments, and the issuing of instruc- 
tions to Boston's representatives in the legislature calling 
for the repeal of the obnoxious law. Apparently the plebis- 
cite was not taken ; but the general question was debated in 
town meeting. A committee was appointed to prepare in- 
structions. The committee reported favorably concerning 
the proposed instructions to Boston's representatives in the 
legislature, and these representatives later undertook the 
task of bringing a majority of the members of the General 
Court to the more liberal point of view; not, however, 
with immediate success. Meanwhile, to the scandal of Gov- 
ernor John Hancock, and doubtless many another advocate 
of decency and order, theatrical entertainments, " under the 

^ Seilhamer, op. cit, vol. iii, p. 13; Dunlap, History of the American 
Theatre, vol. i, p. 244; Snow, History of Boston, pp. 333 et seq. 


Stile & Appellation of Moral Lectures," ^ flourished openly 
in Boston.^ 

It was during the progress of the debate in the legislature 
over the proposed repeal of the law against theatrical en- 
tertainments that John Gardiner, one of Boston's repre- 
sentatives in that body, delivered himself of sentiments 
touching what he styled "the illiberal, unmanly, and des- 
potic act " of 1 750. His speech gave evidence of how fresh 
ajid independent the judgments of some minds had come to 
be. Addressing the presiding officer, Gardiner said : 

Sir! I really and truly venerate; I would rather say, I sin- 
cerely and almost enthusiastically admire the many great and 
splendid virtues of our renowned puritan ancestors . . . ; but 
still. Sir, they were only men; and, like all other men, were 
fallible; liable to frailties, to prejudices, and to error. Some 
errors, and some unjust prejudices, they undoubtedly had. 
Would to God a veil was drawn over all their absurd prejudices 
which, like spots in the sun, tend in some small degree to be- 
darken and obscure the otherwise truly-resplendent glories of 
their character. One of these prejudices, in my opinion, was 
their inveterate opposition and abhorrent aversion to the 

'^ Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1792-3, 
pp. 686 et seq. 

' The public discussion and legislative phase of the situation, together 
with the disorders occasioned by the determination of the supporters 
of the theatre to serve their enterprise at any cost, are well covered 
by Clapp in the chapter already cited in Winsor's Memorial History 
of Boston. Cf. also Seilhamer, vol. iii, pp. 14 et seq.; Dunlap, vol. i, 
pp. 242 et seq. ; Willard, Memories of Youth and Manhood, vol. i, pp. 
324, 32s ; Bentley, Diary, vol. i, pp. 340, 379, 380, 414, 415, 418, etc. 

* The Speech of John Gardiner, Esquire, Delivered in the House of 
Representatives. On Thursday, the 26th of January, 1792, Boston, 1792, 
p. 18. Another publication of the same year, The Rights of the Drama: 
or. An Inquiry into the Origin, Principles, arid Consequences of The- 
atrical Entertainments. By Philo Dramatis (pseud.), discussed the 


That Gardiner was the spokesman of a very considerable 
number of citizens is demonstrated by the fact that on 
March 28, 1793, a bill drawn to take the place of the older 
legislation against theatrical amusements and granting spe- 
cifically to the people of Boston the right to erect a theatre 
and to have " stage plays performed under certain regula- 
tions and restrictions," was enacted by the legislature of 

subject in different vein, but with the same object in view. In the final 
chapter on " The Outlines of a Theatre, it's Necessary Appendages, a 
Plan of Regulation, Calculation of Expenses, Profits, &c.", doubtless by- 
way of turning the balance of public judgment in favor of the estab- 
lishment of a local theatre, the author suggests that the following ends 
may be served: the development of native genius, and thus the elevation 
of America to a high rank in the republic of letters; the reservation of 
a certain portion of the revenues of the theatre by the Commonwealth, 
for the care of the poor of Boston, or of the state, and for the support 
of the University at Cambridge (Harvard), thus easing the burden of 
taxation. The closing words of this pamphlet, stripped of their bom- 
bast, are not unworthy to stand with Gardiner's : " Whenever I consider 
this subject, and contemplate the formation of a Theatre, I cannot help 
feeling a kind of enthusiasm ... I anticipate the time when the 
Garricks and Siddons of America shall adorn the Stage, and melt the 
soul to pity. But here let me pause. — Let the most rigid Stoic, or the 
greatest fanatic in religion, or the most notorious dupe to prejudice, 
once hearken to the tale of the tragic muse, whose office it is to soften, 
and to subdue the violent passions of the mind, by painting the real 
misfortimes and distresses, which accompany our journey through life; 
or attend to the laughable follies, and vain inconsistencies, which daily 
mark the character of the human species — the deformity of vice — the 
excellence of virtue — , and, from the representation of the lively 
Comedy, ' catch the manners living as they rise,' and then say, if he 
can, that lessons of instruction are unknown to the Drama. If these 
have no effect, let him listen, with mute attention, to the occasional 
symphonies, which burst from a thousand strings, and accompany, and 
give life and animation to the Comic scene — and then, if stmk below 
the brute creation, let him be fortified against the impressions of 
sensibility. The stoicism of man must surpass our comprehension, if 
the dramatic scene can be contemplated without emotion; more es- 
pecially when the representation of life and manners is intended to 
correct and to enlarge the heart. ..." 


Massachusetts/ It is very evident that public sentiment 
had veered round to a radically new and different view re- 
specting the place and function of the theatre. So much so, 
indeed, that some who sought to shape the thought and de- 
termination of the times recommended the establishment of 
the theatre as the only possible way of drawing the desires 
and interests of the people away from grosser and more in- 
jurious excitements toward which, it was believed, an 
alarming growth of frivolity and lack of moral concern was 
rapidly sweeping the people of New England.^ 

This alleged declension of morals may be more vitally 
viewed from the standpoint of the subject of intemperance. 

^ Cf. (Boston) Independent Chronicle and Universal Advertiser, 
Thursday, March 28, 1793. 

^ Pseud.: Effects of the Stage on the Manners of a People: and 
the Propriety of Encouraging and Establishing a Virtuous Theatre. 
By a Bostonian, Boston, 1792. The author is insipid enough; none 
the less the pamphlet is by no means void of a certain practical- 
mindedness and good sense as the author argues for the frank accept- 
ance of the theatre as an institution in the city's life. The following 
constitute his chief contentions : The theatre, in some form or other, 
is bound to come, because of the fact that the people generally are 
interested in the subject of amusement; the tastes and appetites of the 
people already give painful evidence of serious debasement and cor- 
ruption; the acceptance of a "Virtuous Theatre'' is the only possible 
expedient if the people are to be saved from worse debauchment. 

The view taken by the Reverend William Bentley, iSalem's well-known 
minister, was less specious, though tinged with a mildly pessimistic view 
of popular tastes. Under date of July 31, 1792, he wrote: " So much 
talk has been in the Country about Theatrical entertainments that they 
have become the pride even of the smallest children in our schools. 
The fact puts in mind of the effect from the Rope flyers, who visited 
N. England, after whose feats the children of seven were sliding down 
the fences & wounding themselves in every quarter." Diary, vol. i, 
p. 384. Later, he wrote : " The Theatre opened for the first time 
[in Salem] is now the subject. The enlightened who have not deter- 
mined upon its utter abolition have yet generally agreed that it is too 
early introduced into our country." Ibid., vol. ii, p. 81. Cf. ibid., pp. 
258, et seq., 299, 322. It is clear that Bentley was apprehensive. 


Convivial habits were a fixed part of the New England 
character, and the sin of drunkenness was as old as the 
settlement of the country. The practice of brewing was 
numbered among the employments of the first settlers.^ 
Rum was generally used by the people, and the commercial 
life of the colonies was inextricably woven with its impor- 
tation and exportation.^ Cider was the native New Eng- 
land beverage. ° The importation of wine was large from 
the first.* A general tendency in the direction of increased 
habits of drinking was to be expected. ° 

The period of the Revolution made its own special con- 

1 Weeden, Economic and Social History of New England, vol. i, 
pp. 188, 19s ; Bishop, History of American Manufactures, vol. i, 
pp. 245 et seq. 

^Ibid., p. 250; vol. ii, pp. 501, 502. See also Clark, History of 
Manufactures in the United States, p. 480. 

^ Ibid. Bishop notes the fact that in 1721 a small villj^e of forty 
houses, near Boston, made 3000 barrels of cider. 

^ Ibid., p. 269; Weeden, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 144, 148 et seq. 

^ The impression that this decline toward a general state of drunken- 
ness set in early will appear from the following excerpt taken from the 
Synod's report on " The Necessity of Reformation ", presented to the 
General Court of Massachusetts in 1679 : " VIII. There is much Intem- 
perance. The heathenish and Idolatrous practice of Health-drinking is 
become too general a Provocation. Dayes of Training, and other pub- 
lick Solemnityes, have been abused in this respect : and not only English 
but Indians have been debauched, by those that call themselves Chris- 
tians, who have put their bottles to them, and made them drunk also. 
This is a crying Sin, and the more aggravated in that the first Planters 
of this Colony did (as in the Patent expressed) come into this Land 
with a design to Convert the 'Heathen unto Christ. . . . There are more 
Temptations and occasions unto That Sin, publickly allowed of, than 
any necessity doth require; the proper end of Taverns, &c. being to 
that end only, a far less number would suffice: But it is a common 
practice for Town dwellers, yea and Church-members, to frequent pub- 
lick Houses, and there to misspend precious Time, unto the dishonour 
of the Gospel, and the scandalizing of others, who are by such examples 
induced to sin against God." Cf. Walker, Creeds and Platforms of 
Congregationalism, p. 430. 


tribution to the gravity of the case. The soldiers of the 
Continental armies received regular rations of liquor/ and 
at the expiration of the war carried back to their respective 
communities the habits of intemperance which in many 
cases their army life had strengthened. Rum was more and 
more coming to be regarded as one of the necessities of 
life; ^ and with the revival of industry and commerce after 
the war the business of distilling mounted rapidly to amaz- 
ing proportions/ 

A growing uneasiness over the social and economic con- 

^ Hatch, The Administration of the American Revolutionary Army, 
pp. 89 et seq. The supplies of beer, cider, and rum furnished the 
armies were not always held to be adequate. After the battle of 
Brandy wine, Congress ordered thirty hogsheads of rum distributed 
among the soldiers as a tribute to their gallant conduct in that battle. 
Cf. One Hundred Years of Temperance, New York, 1886, article by 
Daniel Dorchester on "The Inception of the Temperance Reformation", 
p. 113, for comments on the effects of the return of drunken soldiers 
to the ranks of citizenship. 

2 Weeden, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 883, supplies the following concerning the 
character of the coasting and river trade, which the exigencies of the war 
greatly stimulated': "A cargo from Boston to Great Barrington and 
Williamstown contained 11 hdds. and 6 tierces of rum, 3 bbls. of wine, 
2 do. of brandy, Yi bale of cotton, and i small cask of indigo. The 
proportion of ' wet goods ' to the small quantity of cotton and indigo 
is significant, and indicates the prevailing appetites ". 

* In 1783 Massachusetts had no fewer than sixty-three distilleries. In 
1788 this state distilled 1,475,509 gallons of spirits from foreign, and 11,- 
490 gallons from domestic materials. From 1790 to 1800 in the United 
States, 23,148,404 gallons of spirits were distilled from molasses; of 
this 6,322,640 gallons were exported, leaving a quantity for home con- 
sumption so large as to supply its own comment. Low grain prices, 
together with the difficulty of gaining access to the molasses markets, 
hastened a transition to grain distilling near the end of the eighteenth 
century, with the result that in 1810 Mr. Gallatin, Secretary of the 
Treasury, reported not less than 9,000,000 gallons of spirits as having 
been distilled from grain and fruit in 1801. Bishop, History of 
American Manufactures, vol. ii, pp. 30, 65, 83, 152; Clark, History of 
Manufactures in the United States, p. 230. 


sequences involved in the spread of alcoholism is apparent. 
Under the date of July 29, 1789, the Reverend Jeremy 
Belknap, minister of the church in Long Lane, Boston, is 
found writing thus to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Philadelphia's 
celebrated physician and early apostle of temperance re- 

With respect to spirituous liquors I believe some good has been 
done, but much more remains to be done. The distilleries here 
are so ready a source of gain, that, till the auri sacra fames 
shall cease to be a ruling passion, I fear there will no end be 
put to them. The demand from abroad I am told increases, 
particularly from the north of Europe, & while the stills are 
kept going there will be a large home consumption. In an ex- 
cursion of about 80 miles into the country a few weeks since, 
I met many loads of pot & pearl ashes coming down, & on my 
return the teams which I met were loaded with dry fish, hogs- 
heads of salt, & barrels of rum. The thirst for spirits in the 
back country is so ardent, that in .the fall & winter they will sell 
their wheat for this sort of pay, & then in the spring and sum- 
mer following go 40 or 50 miles after bread. However, we do 
what we can by way of precept & example, & we do not intend 
to be discouraged.^ 

The correspondence which the Reverend Bulkley Olcott, 
minister of the church in Charlestown, New Hampshire, 
had with Belknap is of like import.^ He had tried to ob- 
tain accurate statistical information from the Excise Mas- 
ter as to the quantity of spirituous liquors consumed in his 
county, and had not succeeded. However, it is a matter of 
his personal knowledge that many good estates have been 
squandered through drinking, and much time, labor, and 
health, and many lives destroyed in the same way. He 

' Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 6th ser., vol. iv, 
Belknap Papers, pt. iii, p. 440. 
^Ibid., p. S08. 


recognizes that many concurring circumstances come to the 
aid of spirituous liquors in working fatal results; still the 
general abuse of drink is declared to be one of the heaviest 
and most threatening evils under which the country groans. 
The taverns of the day on all public occasions/ and fre- 
quently in the ordinary course of their business, were filled 
with gambling, carousing, drinking crowds. The extent to 
which the great occasions of state were seized upon as op- 
portunities for open and shameless drinking had become a 
scandal. The custom of granting a certain allowance of 
rum per day to laborers was honored in at least some sec- 
tions of the country.^ Accidental deaths due to drunken- 
ness, and cases of suicide and insanity traceable to the same 
cause, were frequently reported.* All classes of society, 

^ Diary of William Bentley, vol. ii, p. 92: May 31, 1794: "The 
observation of holydays at (Election is an abuse in this part of the 
Country. Not only at our return yesterday, did we observe crowds 
around the new Tavern at the entrance of the Town, but even at this 
day, we saw at Perkins' on the neck, persons of all descriptions, danc- 
ing to a fiddle, drinking, playing with pennies, &c. It is proper such 
excesses should be checked." Cf. also ibid., pp. 58, 363, 410, 444 et seq. 
Cf. also Earle, Alice Morse, Stage-coach and Tavern Days, New York, 

2 Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 6th Series, 
vol. iv, Belknap Papers, pt. iii, p. 456. Jeremiah Libbey writes of the 
situation at Portsmouth, [N. H. ?] : " The common allowance of rum 
to labourers here is half a pint per day, which has been the rule or cus- 
tom as long as I can remember. There are several persons in this 
town that are endeavouring to abolish the custom by giving them more 
wages in lieu of the allowance, as it is call'd; but the custom is so 
rooted that it is very difficult to break it. The attachment is so great, 
that in general if you were to offer double the price of the allowance 
in money it would not be satisfactory to the labourers, and altho' that 
is the case & it is the ruin of them and familys in many instances . . . 
untill a substitute of beer or some other drink is introduced in general, 
it will be difficult to get over it ". 

^ Diary of William Bentley, vol. i, pp. 167, 175, 217, 218, 244, 247, 
248, 255, 256, 281 et seq. 


young and old, rich and poor, men and women, fell victims 
to the great scourge. The colleges were not immune. At 
Yale, wine and liquors were kept in the rooms of many of 
the students and intemperance was one of the commonest 
of student faults.^ Clergymen, though generally restrain- 
ing themselves from gross indulgence, were accustomed to 
feel that the spirit of conviviality and the discussion of the 
affairs of church and state went hand in hand ; '-^ and now 
and then the bounds of propriety were overstepped. 

Other unfavorable aspects of the situation may be found 
in the habits of card-playing and gambling which every- 
where prevailed, and in the frequent allusions to instances 
of social vice and illegitimacy with which the pages of the 
diary of such a careful observer as the Reverend William 
Bentley were laden.^ 

^ Autobiography and Correspondence of Lyman Beecher, vol. i, p. 30. 

^ Ihid., p. 24. The description of the meeting of the Consociation, 
pp. 214 et seq., is unusually vivid : " . . . the preparation for our 
creature comforts in the sitting-room of Mr. 'Heart's house, besides 
food, was a broad sideboard, covered with decanters and bottles, and 
sugar, and pitchers of water. There we found all the various kinds 
of liquors then in vogue. The drinking was apparently universal. This 
preparation was made by the society as a matter of course. When the 
Consociation arrived, they always took something to drink round; also 
before public services, and always on their return. As they could not 
all drink at once, they were obliged to stand and wait, as people do when 
they go to mill. There was a decanter of spirits also on the dinner- 
table, to help digestion, and gentlemen partook of it through the after- 
noon and evening as they felt the need, some more and some less ; and 
the sideboard, with the spillings of water, and sugar, and liquor, looked 
and smelled like the bar of a very active grog-shop. None of the 
Consociation were drunk ; but that there was not, at times, a consider- 
able amount of exhilaration, I can not affirm." It was Beecher's judg- 
ment that " the tide was swelling in the drinking habits of society." 
Ihid., p. 215. 

^Ihid., vol. i, pp. 133, 138, 163, 25s, 256, 371; vol. ii, pp. 294, 
328 et seq. 


The opinion that the social life of the period was desper- 
ately unsound was accepted without question by many a so- 
called interpreter of the times. The observations which 
President Timothy Dwight, of Yale, made in his Century 
Sermon ^ expressed the views of many minds. Dating "the 
first considerable change in the religious character of the 
people of this country " with the beginning of the French 
and Indian War/ he continued : 

The officers and soldiers of the British armies, then employed 
in this country, although probably as little corrupted as those 
of most armies, were yet loose patterns of opinion and conduct, 
and were unhappily copied by considerable numbers of our own 
countrymen, united with them in military life. These, on their 
return, spread the infection through those around them. 
Looser habits of thinking began then to be adopted, and were 
followed, as they always are, by looser conduct. The Ameri- 
can war increased these evils. Peace had not, at the commence- 
ment of this war, restored the purity of life which existed 
before the preceding war. To the depravation still remaining 
was added a long train of immoral doctrines and practices, 
which spread into every comer of the country. The profana- 
tion of the Sabbath, before unusual, profaneness of language, 
drunkenness, gambling, and lewdness were exceedingly in- 
creased ; and, what is less commonly remarked, but is perhaps 
not less mischievous than any of them, a light, vain method 
of thinking concerning sacred things and a cold, contemp- 
tuous indifference toward every moral and religious subject.^ 

But this sweeping judgment of Yale's president, together 

^ A Discourse on Some Events of the Last Century, delivered in the 
Brick Church in New Haven, on Wednesday, lanuary 7, 180T. By 
Timothy Dwight, President of Yale College, New Haven, 1801. Cf. 
this author's Travels in New England and New York, vol. iv, pp. 
353 et seq. 

2 Dwight's Century Sermon, p. 18. 

' Ibid., pp. 18 et seq. 


with the specific explanation of the situation which he 
offered, are to be checked up by other and less pessimistic 
considerations. That there was much pertaining to the 
customs and manners of the times to be deplored, is not to 
be denied. On the other hand, that society in New Eng- 
land, as the eighteenth century drew toward its close, was 
actually lapsing from soundness and virtue to the extent 
that its fundamental views and habits were being altered, is 
far from clear. Observers who spoke to the contrary lis- 
tened chiefly to the murmurs of the shallows and were un- 
responsive to the deeps. 

The fact is, new ideals and new forces were working up- 
ward in the common life of the age. The new sense of 
freedom which the War of Independence ushered in, the 
steadily growing prosperity of the people, the development 
of social intimacies as the population of the country in- 
creased, the intrusion and growing influence of foreign 
ideas and customs, the steadily diminishing domination of 
the clergy — these all tended to inaugurate a new order which 
clashed more or less violently with the old. The memories 
of the old Puritan regime were still sufficiently vivid to 
make every lapse from liberty into license appear ominous 
in the extreme. 

A: general relaxing of social customs expressed itself in 
manifold ways over all those areas where actual stagnation 
had not come to pass ; but this loosening was by no means 
characterized by deep-seated coarseness or general immoral- 
ity.^ The people had begun to claim for themselves some 

1 The testimony of a European traveller should prove as edifying 
as that of an intimate participant in the country's life. In 1788, Brissot 
de Warville visited America. He remarked the change which had 
come over the people of New England, of Boston in particular. The 
old " Presbyterian austerity, which interdicted all pleasures, even that 
of walking; which forbade travelling on Sunday, which persecuted 
men whose opinions were different from their own " was no longer to 


relaxation, and hence to amuse and satisfy themselves in the 
light of their enlarged conceptions of the freedom and 

be encountered. Yet no evidence of the corruption of morals pre- 
sented itself to the distinguished traveller. On the contrary, he re- 
marked the general wholesomeness and soundness of domestic life, 
and the general poise and temperance of a people which, " since the 
ancient puritan austerity has disappeared", was able to play cards 
without yielding to the gambling instinct and to enjoy its clubs and 
parties without offending the spirit of courtesy and goodi-breeding. 
The glow upon the soul of Brissot as he contemplates the prosperity 
and unaffected simplicity of the people of Boston is evident as he 
writes : " With what pleasure did I contemplate this town, which' first 
shook off the English yoke! which, for a long time, resisted all the 
seductions, all the menaces, all the horrors of a civil war! How I 
delighted to wander up and down that long street, whose simple houses 
of wood border the magnificent channel of Boston, and whose full 
stores offer me all the productions of the continent which I had 
quitted! How I enjoyed the activity of the merchants, the artizans, 
and the sailors I It was not the noisy vortex of Paris ; it was not the 
unquiet, eager mien of my countrymen; it was the simple, dignified 
air of men, who are conscious of liberty, and who see in all men their 
brothers and their equals. Everything in this street bears the marks 
of a town still in its infancy, but which, even in its infancy, enjoys a 
great prosperity. . . . Boston is just rising from the devastations of 
war, and its commerce is flourishing; its manufactures, productions, 
arts, and sciences, offer a number of curious and interesting observa- 
tions." (Brissot De Warville, New Travels in the United States of 
America, pp. 70-82.) Equally laudatory comment respecting the state 
of society in Connecticut is made by Brissot (pp. 108, 109). 

John Bernard, the English comedian, who was in this country at the 
close of the eighteenth century, found the state of society very much 
like that which he had left in his own country. " They wore the same 
clothes, spoke the same language, and seemed to glow with the same 
affable and hospitable feelings. In walking along the mall I could 
scarcely believe I had not been whisked over to St. James's Park ; and 
in their houses the last modes of London were observable in nearly 
every article of ornament or utility. Other parts of the state were, 
however, very different." (Bernard, Retrospections of America, 
1797-1811, p. 29.) Bernard found in New England abundant evidences 
of progress such as he had not been accustomed to in England, and 
splendid stamina of character (p. 30). Nothing, apparently, suggested 
to him that the people were not virile and sound. 


privileges of life. On the whole, their enjoyments and 
amusements were such as characterize a state of healthy- 
mindedness at a time of marked transition. 

In the main, the condition of the people was deplorable for 
what they lacked in the way of incitements to pleasurable 
and helpful social and cultural employments rather than be- 
cause of what they possessed.^ When it is recalled how 
considerable was the dearth of material for mental occupa- 
tion ; how undeveloped, for example, were music and paint- 
ing; " how the newspapers and magazines of the day sup- 
plied little or nothing of a constructive or inspiring charac- 
ter; how science was almost totally undeveloped,' libraries 
few in number and destitute of stimulating material, the 
colleges for the most part mooning the years away over 
insipid and useless abstractions and dogmatic formulations, 

' Bentley, Diary, vol. i, pp. 253 et seq., discusses at length " the Puerile 
Sports usual in these parts of New England". Weeden, Economic and 
Social History of New England, vol. ii, p. 696, comments on the dearth 
of public amusement. Cf. also ibid., p. 864. The changed attitude of 
the public toward dancing, as reported by Weeden, pp. 6g6 and 864, 
doubtless finds its explanation in the growing consciousness that the 
resources in the way of entertainment deserve to be increased. At the 
close of the century, however, dancing was still frowned upon. 
Bentley, Diary, vol. ii, pp. 17, 232, 233, 296, 322, 363. 

2 Brissot, New Travels in the United States of America, p. 72: 
" Music, which their teachers formerly prescribed as a diabolic art, 
begins to make part of their education. In some houses you hear the 
forte-piano. This art, it is true, is still in its infancy; but the young 
novices who exercise it, are so gentle, so complaisant, and so modest, 
that the proud perfection of art gives no pleasure equal to what they 
afford." Cf. also Bentley, Diary, vol. ii, pp. 247 et seq., 292. 

* Brissot, New Travels in the United States of America, pp. 86 
et seq. Brissot generously explains this fact upon the ground that in 
a country so new, whose immediate concerns were so compelling, and 
where, also, wealth is not centered in a few hands, the cultivation of 
the arts and sciences is not to be expected. On the side of invention 
the situation was far from being as bad as a reading of Brissot might 
seem to imply. Weeden, Economic and Social History of New 
England, vol. ii, pp. 847-858. 


the wonder is that the rebound against Puritanism, in this 
period of intense poHtical excitement and the growing sec- 
ularization of thought, was not tenfold more violent and 
subversive than it was/ 

The impression communicated by this view is heightened 
when it is recalled that the struggle for political independ- 
ence not only had affected profoundly the status of the 
people of- New England with respect to both their internal 
and their external relations ; it had also made substantial and 
significant modifications in the very constitution of society 
itself. When the reorganization of affairs after the Revo- 
lutionary struggle was over, it became increasingly apparent 
that the control of the forces and institutions of society in 
New England was in the hands of new leaders and arbiters. 
The aristocracy of unquestioned conservatism which had all 
society under its thumb before the Revolution, had been 
swept away generally in the flood of that epochal event. 
Up from the small towns and villages of the country to the 
great centers, to Boston particularly, came a small army, 
made up largely of squires and gentry,^ to establish a new 

1 Goddard, Studies in New England Transcendentalism, p. 18. 
While the passage cited deals with an earlier situation, the general 
observation made concerning the well-poised character of the New 
England type of mind is as valid for the close of the eighteenth century 
as for the corresponding period of the preceding century; and the 
failure of New England to take a " plunge . . . from the moral heights 
of Puritanism " is all the more impressive in the later period in view 
of the variety and character of the new incitements and impulses which 
the people of New England generally felt in the period following the 

" Conspicuous in this group was the new merchant class. In the wake 
of the Revolutioii came an industrial and commercial revival which 
profoundly affected the life of New England. While the period of the 
Confederation, on account of its political disorganization and the chaotic 
state of public finance and the currency, was characterized by extreme 
economic depression, on the other hand, the adoption of the Con- 
stitution communicated to the centers of industry .aid commerce a 


but less secure sovereignty, to assume control of the social 
and political forces of the day, and, more or less unaware 
of the precise significance of the turn of events, to measure 
its strength against those new forces of democracy which in 
New England, as no place else in the nation, were to find 
themselves compelled to fight a long and stubborn battle to 
secure their emancipation. 

feeling of optimism. The sense that a federal government had been 
formed, equal to the task of guaranteeing to its citizens the rights and 
privileges of trade, gave early evidence that the economic impulses of 
the country had been quickened notably. Such evidence is too abundant 
and too well known either to permit or to require full statement here, 
but the following is suggestive: The fisheries of New England, which 
had been nearly destroyed during the Revolution, had so far revived 
by 1789 that a total of 480 vessels, representing a tonnage of 27,000, 
were employed in the industry. At least 32,000 tons of shipping were 
built in the United States, a very large part of this in New England, 
in 1791. Before the war the largest amount built in any one year was 
26,544 tons. But the record of 1791 was modest. From 1789 to 1810, 
American shipping increased from 202,000 to 1,425,000 tons. Because 
of the federal government's proclamation of strict neutrality with re- 
gard to the wars abroad, the carrying trade of the world came largely 
into the hands of shipowners and seamen of the United States, with 
the result that the dockyards and wharves of New England fairly 
hummed with activity. The exports of 1793 amounted to $33,026,233. 
By 1799 they had mounted to $78,665,522, of which $33,142,522 was the 
growth, produce, or manufacture of the Union. Within a very few 
years after the adoption of the Constitution, American merchants had 
become the warehousers and distributors of merchandise to all parts 
of the world. The wharves of New England were covered with goods 
from Europe, the Orient, the West Indies, and from the looms, shops, 
and distilleries of the nation. Directed by resourceful and far-sighted 
men who had the instinct for commercial expansion, ships sailed from 
New England ports for Batavia, Canton, Calcutta, St. Petersburg, Port 
Louis. They carried with them coffee, fish, flour, provisions, tobacco, 
rum, iron, cattle, horses; they brought back molasses, sugar, wine, in- 
digo, pepper, salt, muslins, calicoes, silks, hemp, duck. The situation 
is dealt with in detail by Bishop, History of American Manufactures, 
vol. ii, pp. 13-82; Clark, History of Manufactures in the United States, 
pp. 227 et seq.; Weeden, Economic and Social History of New Eng- 
land, vol. ii, pp. 816-857. 


Assuming without question the direction of affairs, this 
new aristocracy, after the fashion of the old leaders who 
were gone, addressed itself to the task of social, political, 
and religious control/ Manifestly the situation was big 
with possibilities with respect to the effect to be produced 
upon the thought and habits of the people. There they 
dwelt in their spacious houses,^ these modern aristocrats and 
autocrats of fashion and custom, by no means rolling in 
luxury and idleness, yet claiming and enjoying a degree of 
relaxation and social pleasure vastly more lavish than that 
accorded to their plebeian neighbors, occupying them- 
selves with their parties, their weddings and dances,' their 
refinements of dress* and behavior, but with little or no 
disposition to abandon themselves to scandalous conduct. 

^ Winsor, The Memorial History of Boston, vol. iii, pp. 191, 203; 
Morse, The Federalist Party in Massachusetts, pp. 37, 38; Harvard 
Theological Review, January, 1916, p. 104. 

' Weeden, Early Life in Rhode Island, pp. 357 et seq., calls attention 
to the spacious and elegant houses which were built at Providence 
about 1790, and to the new group of merchants which the expansion 
of trans-oceanic commerce called into existence there. Weeden, 
Economic and Social History of New England, pp. 821 et seq., deals 
with the situation in a larger way. 

* Parker, History of the Second Church of Christ in Hartford, 
p. 172. The passage contains a vivid picture of the state of polite 
society in an important Connecticut center. Love, The Colonial History 
of Hartford, pp. 244 et seq., deals with the transformation of social life 
with particular reference to the disintegration of Puritanism. 

* An outcry against the excesses of fashion began to make itself 
heard. "An Old Farmer," writing to the Massachusetts Spy, March 27, 
1799, complains on account of the consequent drain upon the purses of 
husbands and fathers : " I am a plain farmer, and therefore beg leave 
to trouble you with a little plain language. By the dint of industry, 
and application to agricultural concerns, I have, till lately, made out 
to keep square with the world. But the late scarcity of money, together 
with the extravagance of fashions have nearly ruined me. ... I am by 
no means tenacious of the old way, or of old fashions. I know that my 
family must dress different from what I used to when I was young; 


The constant challenge of the political necessities of the 
times, it may be urged, was altogether too compelling to 
admit of any such looseness. Still, one cannot scan the 
newspapers of the period, or read the story of the social 
commerce of the times as it pieces itself together out of the 
private records and correspondence of the day, or listen 
even to the pulpit's copious flood of denunciations,'^ without 
a feeling of mingled admiration and astonishment that in 
an age everywhere characterized by upheaval and ferment 
there was really as little of shameless and wanton conduct 
in New England as the records of the period reveal. It 
cannot but be viewed as a notable tribute to the essential 
soundness and nobility of that type of moral and religious 
culture which Puritanism had supplied from the first that 
the New England character should be able to pass through 
a period of profound social readjustment, of the discarding 
of old value judgments and the adoption of new, such as 
came near the close of the eighteenth century, and this with- 
out serious loss of moral power and prestige. Manifestly, 
whatever hollowness and insincerity Puritanism may have 

yet as I have the interest of husbands and fathers at heart, I wish 
there might be some reformation in the present mode of female dress. 
... In better times, six or seven yards of CaUco would serve to make 
a gown ; but now fourteen yards are scarcely sufficient. I do not per- 
ceive that women grow any larger now than formerly. ... A few years 
since, my daughters were not too proud to wear good calfskin shoes; 
two pair of which would last them a year : But now none will suitt them 
but morroco, and these must be of the slenderest kind. . . . Young ladies 
used to be contented with wearing nothing on their heads but what 
Nature gave them. . . . But now they dare not appear in company, un- 
less they have half a bushel of gauze, and other stuff, stuck on their 
heads ". The letter closes with a humorous account of the writer's 
embarrassing experience with the trains of the ladies' dresses on the 
occasion of a recent visit to church. 

1 Swift, Lindsay, The Massachusetts Election Sermons (Publica- 
tions of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. i, Transactions, 
1892-1894), pp. 428 et seq. 


developed in other lands and times, it did not so cramp and 
fetter the human spirit in New England as to render it in- 
capable of self-guidance when the old restraints and limita- 
tions were no more/ 

Now that its controlling spirit of gravity and provincial- 
ism was being replaced by a general temper of comparative 
light-heartedness and open-mindedness, of unaffected en- 
joyment of the good things of life, of the acceptance of 
standards far more natural than those of the earlier day, the 
transition was accomplished with a relative absence of ac- 
companying instances of moral lapse and disaster nothing 
less than remarkable. A considerable amount of the boister- 
ousness and heat of the day over which clerical Jeremiahs 
and others of like conservative leanings ceased not to povtr 
out their complaints,^ is explicable on the ground of the 
growing habit of the mass of the people to exercise the 
rights of citizenship through direct participation in the 
affairs of the day. For far more significant than any evi- 
dence of moral blindness and perversity on the part of the 
people in general is the fact that a great, crowding, hungry 
democracy was knocking at the gates of the old aristocratic 
regime and insistently urging the consideration of its rights. 


The general impression of a revolt against morality and 
religion in New England near the close of the eighteenth 

1 Weeden, Economic and Social History of New England, vol. ii, 
pp. 864 et seq. 

2,Scudder, Recollections of Samuel Breck, with Passages from 
His Note-Books, pp. 178 et seq. Breck visited New England about I79i- 
He was impressed with the looseness of life and gross lawlessness which 
he saw. A fairer judgment appears on page 182: " The severe, gloomy- 
puritanical spirit that had governed New England since the days of the 
Pilgrim forefathers was gradually giving way in the principal towns ", 


century was deepened by the bitterness of spirjt which 
marked the last stages of the long struggle waged by dis- 
senters to cut the bond between church and state/ The 
Congregational Church was one of the fundamental institu- 
tions of New England, and from the first the sword of the 
magistrate had been invoked to enforce conformity to its 
worship and polity. Strange enough seem the terms " Es- 
tablishment " and " Standing Order " ^ in the history of a 
people whose forefathers came to America in quest of re- 
ligious freedom. The freedom sought, however, was to be 
construed as loyalty to a new order rather than as the em- 
bodiment of tolerance. Thus it happened that for two 
whole centuries the battle on behalf of the rights of dissent 
had to be waged in New England.* To have this struggle 
construed by the aggrieved representatives of the Establish- 
ment as the crowning expression of what they had come to 
regard as the deep-seated and widespread irreligion of the 

^ Lauer, Church and State in New England (Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity Studies in' History and Political Science. Tenth Series), pp. 
95 et seq. 

' The term " Standing Order " was generally employed in the speech 
and literature of the period, and had reference to the alliance between 
the party of the Establishment and the party of the government. 

•The scope of inquiry prescribed by the special object of this dis- 
sertation renders both unnecessary and unprofitable the tracing of this 
struggle in detail. Valuable special studies in this field are available. 
Among these the following are to be commended as of exceptional 
usefulness: Burrage, A History of the Baptists in New England; 
Greene, The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut; Reed, 
Church and State in Massachusetts, 16Q1-1740; Cobb, The Rise of Re- 
ligious Liberty in America; Ford, New England's Struggle for Relig- 
ious Liberty. Lauer's excellent treatise has already been cited. Of 
contemporaneous treatments, Backus, A History of New England, with 
Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, 
though deficient in literary merit, is doubtless the most trustworthy and 
replete. The citations made from the latter work refer, unless other- 
wise indicated, to the edition of 1871 (2 vols.). 


age, was not the least of the bitter taunts which dissenters 
had to bear. 

(a) Massachusetts 

In Massachusetts the eighteenth century dawned with 
some faint promise of a kindlier day. The Charter of 1691 
granted full liberty of conscience to all Christians except 
Roman Catholics.^ The practical effects of this apparently 
sweeping reform were largely nullified, however, when in 
the following year the General Court made it obligatory for 
each town to have a minister for whose support all its in- 
habitants should be taxed.^ With the removal of all bonds 
upon conscience and of all religious restrictions upon the 
right of suffrage on the one hand, but with the principle of 
enforced support of the institutions of religion on the other, 
the hallowed union of church and state in Massachusetts 
obviously stood in no immediate danger. The slight modi- 
fications speedily made in the law of 1692 did not touch the 
principle of taxation in the interests of religious worship." 

A measure of relief came to the Episcopalians in 1727,* 

1 The Charter Granted by Their Majesties King William and Queen 
Mary, to the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, 
Boston in New England, 1726, p. 9. The principle of church 
membership as a. qualification for voting was set aside for a property 

2 Backus, History of New England, vol. i, pp. 446 et seq. Cf. Reed, 
Church and State in Massachusetts, 1691-1740, pp. 23 et seq. 

8 Backus, History of New England, vol. i, p. 448. 

* Charters and "Acts and Laws" of the Province of Massachu- 
setts-Bay, With Appended Acts and Laws, Boston, 1726-1735, p. 383. 
The law provided that "all persons who profess themselves to be of 
the Church of England ", and who were so situated that " there is a 
Person in Orders according to the Rules of the Church of England 
setled [sic], and abiding among them and performing Divine Service 
within Five Miles of the Habitation, or usual Residence of any Per- 
son professing himself as aforesaid of the Church of England ", might 
have his rate-money reserved for the support of the Episcopal church. 


and to the Quakers and Baptists in 1728/ in the form of 
exemption laws. In the case of the Baptists the exemption 
granted was not absolute, but only for a limited period of 
years. With the expiration of this period the struggle for 
relief of necessity had to be renewed.^ The rights of dis- 
sent had begun to receive some recognition, but the limita- 
tions embodied in the foregoing legislation bore convincing 
testimony of a grudging temper of mind which would yield 
no ground without strong pressure. 

The spirit of excitement and controversy which charac- 
terized the revival of religion of the third and fourth dec- 
ades of the eighteenth century (i. e., the Great Awakening) 
led to new complications and difificulties. Stirred by the 
revival, itinerant preachers, some of them of little learning 
and of less tact, invaded parishes of their clerical brethren 
without their consent, and presumed to censure the minis- 
ters and congregations that had not yielded to the emotional 
impulses of the revival.' A clash of parties followed, pro- 
ducing new antipathies and cleavages. Many who were in 
sympathy with the revival withdrew from orthodox con- 
gregations to organize new churches, nominally Baptist, 
with a view to obtaining exemption from the obligation to 
support the state church. To meet this evasion in 1752 the 
General Court of Massachusetts passed an act which pro- 

That no person for the future shall be so esteemed an 
A(n)nabaptist as to have his poll or polls and estate exempted 
from paying a proportionable part of the taxes that shall 

''^ Charters and "Acts and Laws" of the Province of Mass., etc., 
p. 423. The five-mile limitation formed a part of this legislation, also. 

2 Burrage, History of the Baptists in New England, p. 105. 

* Palfrey, A Compendious History of New England, vol. iv, pp. 
94, 9S- 


be raised in the town or place where he or they belong, 
but such whose names shall be contained in the lists taken by 
the assessors, as in said act provided, or such as shall produce 
a certificate, under the hands of the minister and of two prin- 
cipal members of such church, setting forth that they con- 
scientiously believe such person or persons to be of their 
perswasion, and that he or they usually and frequently attend 
the publick worship in such church on Lord's days.^ 

A further provision of the act denied to Baptist ministers 
and their parishioners the right of furnishing the required 
certificates unless three other Baptist churches previously 
should have certified that the persons granting the certifi- 
cates were regarded as members of that body.^ To make 
the situation more galling, if that were possible, certificates 
so obtained had to be lodged annually with the town clerk 
before the time to pay the rates arrived. 

From every point of view this legislation was objection- 
able to the Baptists. Their protest was instant and vigor- 
ous.^ It was decided to send one of their number as agent 
to England, to carry their case before the government of the 
mother country.* A sharp remonstrance, so plain in its 
language that its signers came very near being taken into 
custody, was drawn up and presented to the General Court 
at Boston. ** But great as was the sense of injustice under 
which the Baptists smarted, the operations of the act appear 
to have been most severe in the case of those who had drawn 
off from the orthodox churches on account of the disturb- 
ances created by the Great Awakening. The position of 

' Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, etc., vol. iii, p. 645. 

2 Ihid. 

^ Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, p. 140. 

* Ibid. 

5 Ibid. 


these Separatists ^ was peculiarly vulnerable. Baptist lead- 
ers found themselves embarrassed when called upon to cer- 
tify to the Baptist affiliations of the Separatists ; such a dis- 
tasteful judgment of the motives and scruples of others was 
to be avoided wherever possible.^ On the other hand, if the 
Separatists sought to set up churches and establish ministers 
of their own, they were confronted by the fact that a second 
Congregational church could not be formed in a parish 
without legislative permission, and the orthodox party usu- 
ally showed itself capable of forestalling all such sanction 
on the part of the state. It was left, therefore, to the Sep- 
aratists either for conscience' sake to bear the double burden 
of taxation,^ or to seek a permanent religious home in one 
of the recognized dissenting bodies.* 

Five years later, when the exemption law of 1752 ex- 
pired and with it the exemption laws that previously had 
been passed for the relief of the Quakers, a new law was 
enacted governing both sects." Henceforth a Baptist who 

' Separatists or .Separates were the names by which those were com- 
monly designated who withdrew from the orthodox churches on ac- 
count of the controversies occasioned by the Great Awakening. See 
Blake, S, Leroy, The Separates or Strict Congregationalists of New 
England, Boston, 1902, pp. 17 et seq. 

2 Hovey, A Memoir of the Life and Times of the Rev. Isaac Backus, 

p. 171- 

^ Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, pp. 96 et seq. Backus 
himself suffered imprisonment under this act. See ibid., p. 109. 

* Greene, The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut, 
pp. 235 et seq. The process of absorption referred to had much to do 
with the breaking up of the Separatist movement. Few of these 
congregations continued to exist until the struggle for religious free- 
dom was fully won. iQther contributory causes in the breaking up of 
the movement were the poverty of the members of these congregations, 
the difficulties they experienced in securing pastoral care, and the dis- 
sensions that arose among them in the exercise of their boasted rights 
of private judgment, public exhortation, and the interpretation of the 

■" Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, pp. 140 et seq. 


desired exemption must have his name upon a list to be 
presented annually to the assessor and signed by the minister 
and three principal members of the Baptist congregation to 
which the applicant belonged, with the accompanying cer- 
tification that the applicant was recognized as a conscientious 
and faithful Baptist. Quakers were placed under the same 
regulations. For thirteen years this law was in operation, 
with manifold instances of distress resulting, particularly in 
the case of Baptists.^ Through difficulty in obtaining the 
certificates, goods were seized, expensive and otherwise irri- 
tating court trials were held, and not a few victims, either 
because of poverty or on account of conscientious scruples, 
found their way to prison. In some instances, despite the 
fact that the certificates were duly obtained and presented, 
they were waved aside and the payment of the tax required 
or the process of distraint invoked.^ It is little wonder that 
the feeling in the minds and hearts of New England Bap- 
tists that there was a spiirt of iniquity back of the oppres- 
sive measures of the Standing Order, came to have all the 
significance of a settled conviction.* 

1 Backus, op. cit„ p. 141. 


3 Cf. Minutes of the Warren Association for 1769, quoted by Burrage, 
History of the Baptists in New England, pp. 108 et seq. Cf. the fol- 
lowing, taken from a statement and appeal to Baptists, in the Boston 
Evening Post) Aug. 20, 1770: "To the Baptists in the Province of 
Massachusetts Bay, who are, or have been, oppressed in any way on a 
religious account. It would be needless to tell you that you have long 
felt the eflfects of the laws by which the religion of the government 
in which you live is established. Your purses have felt the burden of 
ministerial rates; and when these would not satisfy your enemies, your 
property hath been taken from you and sold for less than half its value. 
. . . You will therefore readily hear and attend when you are desired 
to collect your cases of suffering, and have them well atteisted; such 
as, the taxes you have paid to build meeting-houses, to settle ministers 
and support them, with all the time, money and labor you have lost 
in waiting on courts, feeing lawyers, &c. ; and bring or send such 


Further modifications in the exemption laws, made in 
1770, were so slight, leaving as they did the certificate prin- 
ciple practically untouched,^ that Baptist opposition was 
aroused even more deeply and the determination struck 
deeper root to push the battle for religious freedom to a 
decision. The times also were propitious. The near ap- 
proach of the Revolutionary struggle focused attention upon 
the subject of tyranny and caused acts of oppression, 
whether civil or ecclesiastical in character, to stand out in a 
new relief before the eye of the public. That dissenters 
were quick to see the bearing of political events will appear 
from the following pithy comments in the address which 
the Committee of Grievances " drew up late in 1774 and 
presented to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts : 

It seems that the two main rights which all America are con- 
tending for at this time, are, — Not to be taxed where they are 
not represented, and — To have their causes tried by unbiased 
judges. And the Baptist churches in this province as heartily 
unite with their countrymen in this cause, as any denomination 
in the land ; and are as ready to exert all their abilities to defend 
it. Yet only because they have thought it to be their duty to 
claim an equal title to these rights with their neighbors, they 
have repeatedly been accused of evil attempts against the gen- 
eral welfare of the colony; therefore, we have thought it ex- 
pedient to lay a brief statement of the case before this as- 
sembly. . . . Great complaints have been made about a tax 

cases to the Baptist Association to be held at Bellingham; when meas- 
ures will be resolutely adopted for obtaining redress from another 
quarter than that to which repeated application hath been made unsuc- 
cessfully. Nay, complaints, however just and grievous, hath been 
treated with indifference, and scarcely, if at all credited" (Quoted by 
Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, p. 155.) 

1 Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, pp. 156 et seq. 

' This standing committee of the Warren Association is itself a token 
of the strengthened purpose of the Baptists. 


which the British parHament laid upon paper ; but you require 
a paper tax of us annually. That which has made the greatest 
noise, is the tax of three pence a pound upon tea; but your 
law of last June laid a tax of the same sum every year upon the 
Baptists in each parish, as they would expect to defend them- 
selves against a greater one. . . . All America is alarmed at the 
tea tax ; though, if they please, they can avoid it by not buy- 
ing tea ; but we have no such liberty. We must either pay the 
little tax, or else your people appear even in this time of exe- 
tremity determined to lay the great one upon us. But these 
lines are to let you know, that we are determined not to pay 
either of them ; not only upon your principle of not being taxed 
where we are not represented, but also because we dare not 
render homage to any earthly power, which I and many of 
my brethren are fully convinced belongs only to God. We 
can not give the certificates you require, without implicitly 
allowing to men that authority which we believe in our con- 
science belongs only to God. Here, therefore, we claim charter 
rights, liberty of conscience.^ 

As the event proved, the Revolutionary period brought 
little legislative relief to dissenters in Massachusetts. Wher- 
ever the distractions of the war did not interrupt the ordi- 
nary course of ecclesiastical affairs, the state church con- 
tinued to assert its time-honored prerogatives. The new 
constitution of the commonwealth which was adopted in 
1780 gave conclusive proof that the Standing Order still 

^ The address is given in full in Hovey, A Memoir of the Life and 
Times of Isaac Backus, pp. 218-221. It drew a kindly response from 
the Provincial Congress, signed by John Hancock as president, pleading 
thie inability of the Congress to give redress and advising the ag- 
grieved parties to submit their case to the General Court of Massa- 
chusetts at its next session. This step was taken in September, 1775 ; 
but beyond the fact that a bill, drawn to give redress, was once read 
in the sessions of the Assembly, nothing came of the matter. " Such ", 
remarks Backus, "is the disposition of mankind". (C/. Backus, 
History of New England, vol. ii, pp. 202 et seq. Cf. Burrage, History 
of the Baptists in New England, pp. 113 et seq.) 


had the situation well in hand. That instrument contained 
a bill of rights which reaffirmed the authority of the legis- 
lature to authorize and require the various towns and par- 
ishes " to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for 
the institution of the public worship of God " ; ^ affirmed 
also that the legislature had authority to enjoin attendance 
upon public worship; that towns and parishes were to have 
the right to elect their ministers and make contracts with 
them for their support; and that moneys, in the form of 
rates paid by the people in the support of public worship, 
were to be applied according to the preference of the rate- 
payer, " provided, there be any [minister] on whose instruc- 
tions he attends " ; otherwise the minister selected by the 
town or parish was to receive the benefit of the tax.^ There 
is no difficulty in discerning here the outlines of the old ideal 
of a state church. The day of deliverance for dissent was 
not yet.' 

What did take place during the Revolutionary period to 
promote the cause of religious freedom and to hasten the 
day of its triumph was the publication of various pamphlets 
and treatises devoted to the cause of toleration or cham- 
pioning the closely allied cause of democracy in church and 
state.* Several of these " were from the pen of the indomi- 

1 The Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Passed from 
the Year 1780, to the End of the Year 1800, vol. i, pp. 19, 20. 

2 Ibid. 

® Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, pp. 228 et seq., for 
cases of persecution under the operation of the bill of rights. 

* The contribution made by the newspapers must not be overlooked 
in this connection. From about 1770 on there may be traced a growing 
disposition on the part of dissenters to air their grievances in the public 
journals. Supporters of the Establishment were not slow to respond. 

" In addition to the two specifically referred to, Backus published the 
following: Policy, as well as Honesty, Forbids the Use of Secular 
Force in Religious Affairs, Boston, 1779; Truth is Great, and Will 
Prevail, Boston, 1781 ; A Door Opened for Equal Christian Liberty, 
etc., Boston, 1783. 


table Isaac Backus, whose unwearied advocacy of the rights 
of the individual conscience was exceeded by none. The 
likeness of the struggle which dissenters were making for 
freedom of conscience to that which the colonists were 
making for civil liberty was a favorite notion of this 
doughty penman ; and such an argument presented when the 
imaginations of his countrymen were stirred by the political 
situation, could not fail of its appeal. Three years before 
the war broke out, in his Appeal to the Public for Relig- 
ious Liberty, Backus had drawn for the benefit of the 
public a sharp distinction between the spheres of ecclesias- 
tical and civil governments. The former was armed only 
with light and truth, and was commissioned to " pull down 
the strongholds of iniquity," to gather into Christ's church 
those who were willing to be governed by His teachings, 
and to exclude those who would not be so governed ; while 
the latter " is armed with the sword to guard the peace 
and to punish those who violate the same." ^ In his Gov- 
ernment and Liberty Described, and Ecclesiastical Tyranny 
Exposed, published in 1778, he attacked the notion of men 
" assuming a power to govern religion, instead of being 
governed by it," and asserted that the essence of true re- 
ligion is a voluntary obedience to God.^ Here was strong 
meat for a people for whom the word freedom was rapidly 
coming to have an enlarged signification. 

The most convincing exposition of the democratic ten- 
dencies of the age came from another quarter, and in a 
sense belonged to the past. Spurred by the fact that at the 
beginning of the century a resolute effort had been made,v 
both in Massachusetts and Connecticut, to obtain more com- 
pact and rigid ecclesiastical control,^ the Reverend John 

1 Backus, op. cit., p. 13. 

' Quoted from Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, p. 223. 
3 Walker, History of the Congregational Churches in the United 
States, pp. 206-209. 


Wise, of Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 17 10 had issued a satir- 
ical tract entitled, The Churches' Quarrel Espoused, and 
later, in 171 7, a more serious production entitled, A Vin- 
dication of the Government of the New England Churches. 
In 1772 a new edition of these tracts, published by subscrip- 
tion, came from the Boston press/ The enduring quality 
of the task Wise had performed is shown by the fact that, 
while these two slight volumes had been conceived as a pro- 
test against the encroachments of ecclesiastical tyranny in 
the first two decades of the century, they now, a half-century 
later, served equally well to voice the deep passions and im- 
pulses of a people who for the moment were engrossed in 
the concerns of civil government." Wise rejected the ideals 
of monarchy and aristocracy for the church, and took his 
stand upon the proposition that democracy alone stands the 
test of reason and revelation.* Of all systems, democracy 
alone cherishes the precious interests of man's original lib- 
erty and equality. It alone serves efifectually to restrain the 
disposition to prey and embezzle, and to keep the adminis- 

''- Cf. A Vindication of the Government of the New-England Churches, 
etc., Boston, 1772. The first edition of 500 copies was quickly sub- 
scribed for, and a second was published the same year. 

•' An edition of Wise's tracts was published as late as i860, by the 
Congregational Board of Publication. From that edition the citations 
are drawn. The following from the " Introductory Notice " is of 
interest: ". . . . some of the most glittering sentences of the immortal 
Declaration of Independence are almost literal quotations from this 
essay of John Wise [i. e., Vindication of the Government of New- 
England Churches]. And it is a significant fact, that in 1772, only 
four years before the declaration was made, a large edition of both 
those tracts was published by subscription in one duodecimo volume. 
The presumption which this fact alone suggests, that it was used as a 
political text-book in the great struggle for freedom then opening, is 
fully confirmed by the list of subscribers' names printed at the end, 
with the number of copies annexed." Page xx et seq. 

3 Ibid., pp. 48-50, 54, 56. 


tration of government firmly fixed upon the main point, 
" the pecuHar good and benefit of the whole." " It is as 
plain as daylight, there are no species of government like a 
democracy to attain this end." ^ 

Such literary assaults upon the usurpations of govern- 
ment, upon the violation of individual rights, and upon ob- 
structions erected in the path of democracy, were frontal. As 
has been said, they were also happily timed. The oppressed 
would have to content themselves a little longer with a type 
of toleration which seemed but the shadow of genuine free- 
dom ; but the broad dissemination of such principles as those 
proclaimed by Backus and Wise had had the effect of alter- 
ing appreciably the spirit of the times. 

The close of the struggle for political freedom gave early 
proof that the cause of religious toleration had passed into 
a new stage. Dissent had grown in numbers and influence.^ 
Distant voices, too, were being heard. Virginia's noble ex- 
ample in adopting the Act Establishing Religious Freedom 
had given a practical demonstration of the complete sever- 
ance of church and state. The impression created by this 
determination of the issue of religious freedom on the 
broadest possible basis had been profound throughout the 
country. When the Constitution of the United States was 
before the people of Massachusetts for ratification, in the 
fall and winter of 1787-88, they found in it a single pro- 

1 Wise, op. cit., p. 56. 

' Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, pp. 391-401, furnishes the 
following table of Baptist strength in New England in the year 179s : 
Churches, 325; ministers, 232; members, 20,902. Methodism had 
emerged in New England within the last quarter of the century, and 
Methodist ministers were indefatigable in their labors. By the close 
of the century as generous-minded a iCongregational minister as 
Bentley could not altogether cover over his chagrin on account of the 
growth and influence of the "sects". Cf. Diary of William Bentley, 
vol. ii, pp. 127, 409, 419. 


vision concerning religion. Article VI provided : " No re- 
ligious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any 
office or public trust in the United States." So far had the 
eyes of dissenters in Massachusetts been opened to dangers 
lurking in legislative measures that a large proportion of 
the Baptist delegates in the state constitutional convention 
voted against the adoption of the instrument.^ Besides, 
their hearts were set on some broad and yet specific guar- 
antee of religious freedom under which their liberties would 
be safe. The First Amendment to the Constitution, which 
Congress proposed in 1789, seemed to fulfil their desire. It 
provided that " Congress shall make no law respecting an 
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise 
thereof." With the adoption of this law by the majority 
of the states, the principle of full liberty of mind, con- 
science, and worship, had been written finally into the law 
of the land. 

Yet this pronouncement of the national government could 
not bring to a full end the long struggle which had been 
waged. Only the sphere of the federal government was in- 
volved, and individual states were still free to deal with the 
institutions of religion and the rights of individuals as they 
might feel disposed, as long as the national welfare was not 
involved.^ What actually happened in Massachusetts is 
well expressed by Isaac Backus : " The amendment about 
liberty of conscience is kept out of sight." ^ The goods of 
Baptists continued to be levied upon to meet the ministerial 
tax.* Dissensions continued to arise in parishes over the 
settlement and support of ministers, dissenting minorities 

1 Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, p. 235. Cf. Barrage, 
History of the Baptists in New England, pp. 121 et seq. 

2 Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America, pp. SO9-511. 
' Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, p. 341. 

* Ibid., pp. 351 et seq., 379. 


usually contesting the right of the majority to saddle upon 
them clergymen for whose ministrations they had no de- 
sire.^ The annoyances and disabilities that dissenters and 
disaffected members of the Establishment suffered were 
clearly not so numerous nor so severe as they had been in 
the past ; '■' none the less they were able to keep alive the im- 
pression that nothing but a spirit of bigotry and obdurate 
tyranny could explain the prolonged attitude and policy of 
the Standing Order. ^ 

(b) Connecticut 

Before directing attention to the effect which this weak- 
ening of the forces of ecclesiastical domination had upon 
the minds of the leaders of the Establishment, it will be 
necessary to review briefly the course which affairs took in 

Despite the fact that the founding of Connecticut had 
directly resulted from the ecclesiasticism of Massachusetts, 
the forces of ecclesiastical tyranny proved to be more 
strongly entrenched in Connecticut than in the parent state." 
This was due in part to the homogeneity of the population,* 

1 Backus, op. cit., pp. 353 et seq. 

2 Ibid., p. 379- 

' Actual disestablishment did not come in Massachusetts until 1833. 

* Since the particular purpose of this chapter is to explain the bitter 
spirit existing between the orthodox party and dissenters in New Eng- 
land near the close of the eighteenth century, rather than to re-write 
the history of the struggle for full religious toleration, much that 
occurred in the long process of severing the bond between church and 
state may be passed over. Attention will be focused upon the character 
rather than the chronology of the struggle. 

5 Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America, p. 238; Fiske, 
The Beginnings of New England, pp. 123 et seq. 

« Greene, The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut, 
p. 121 ; Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America, p. 243. 


but more largely to the degree of oversight of the religious 
life of the people, unusual even for Puritan New England, 
which the General Court of Connecticut exercised from the 
first/ In this connection it is to be observed that the im- 
pulses that lay back of the oppression of dissenters in Con- 
necticut were not the same as those that shaped the situation 
in Massachusetts. The founders of Connecticut were out 
of sympathy with the theocratic ideal that prevailed in the 
mother colony; they frowned upon the harsh measures of 
repression which the authorities of Massachusetts adopted.^ 
They held before them the ideal of a state wherein the main- 
tenance of religion and the exercise of individual freedom 
should not be incompatible. 

Yet as the event proved, the hand of religious tyranny fell 
heavily upon their posterity.^ This happened, not because 
they were disposed to exercise harsher repressive measures 
than their fathers in curbing dissent, but because, in their 
extraordinary devotion to the churches of their own order, 
in their extreme care and watchfulness to strengthen them 
and to safeguard the whole range of their interests, they 
came into open conflict with the interests of dissenting 
bodies.* As early as 1669 the Congregational church was 

1 Cobb, op. cit., pp. 244, 246. 

2 Ihid., pp. 240 et seq. ; Greene, The Development of Religious Liberty 
in Connecticut, pp. 62 et seq., 68. 

* It was the judgment of Isaac Backus that "' oppression was greater 
in Connecticut, than in other governments in New England ". {History 
of New England, vol. ii, p. 404.) 

* Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America, p. 244. Cobb's 
statement concerning the lack of harshness and ungentleness which 
characterized the attitude of the supporters of the state church toward 
dissent is extreme. The controlling spirit of the Standing Order was 
doubtless a positive concern for the welfare of the Establishment rather 
than a desire to weed out dissent; but the clash of interests became 
so sharp and bitter that motives did not remain unmixed, and in many 
an instance dissent in Connecticut was compelled to reckon with a 
spirit of actual persecution. 


formally adopted as the state church/ From that day for- 
ward an intimate and intense paternalism characterized the 
attitude of the civil government toward the Establishment. 
Its most serious and permanent, as well as its lighter and 
occasional concerns, all were provided for with equal con- 
stancy. Contingencies of every description were either pru- 
dently anticipated or, arising suddenly, received the imme- 
diate and painstaking attention of the magistrates.- 

The following list, though far from complete, will serve 
to illustrate this point. Without the consent of the General 
Court, churches could not be organized,^ nor bonds be sev- 
ered between pastors and their flocks.* The formation of 
new parishes and the fixing of their limits,^ the calling of 
new ministers," the determination of the time at which ar- 
rearages in ministers' salaries must be paid fully,'' the fixing 
of the location of new houses of worship,^ the disposition 
of cases of discipline appealed from the decisions of local 
church courts," the settlement of the question as to who 
were to be permitted to receive the Lord's Supper," the 
profifer of counsel concerning the behavior offended mem- 
bers were expected to manifest toward pastors for whom 
they entertained no affection nor respect ^^ — these all were 
regarded as part of the proper business of the General 

1 The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. i, p. 21. 

2 'Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America, pp. 246 et seq. 

3 The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. i, p. 311. 

* Ibid., pp. 356, 362 ; vol. ii, pp. 99, 240 ; vol. iii, pp. 78, 82 et seq. 
^ Ibid., vol. iii, pp. 13, 18, loi, 216 et seq. 

« Ibid., vol. iv, pp. 67, 127, 136 et seq. 
' Ibid., vol. vii, p. 554. 
8 Ibid., pp. 334> 335- 

* Ibid., vol. iii, p. 183. 

1" Ibid., vol. i, pp. 437 et seq. 
^1 Ibid., vol. iii, p. 104. 


The dangers inherent in such a system are not difficult to 
divine. The churches themselves upon which such paternal 
legislative care was imposed generally fotmd their affairs 
taken out of their hands. Civil authority disciplined them 
and their members, and made independent ecclesiastical rule 
little more than a fiction. Again, the committal of the polit- 
ical government to a particular type of religious polity and 
worship aroused antagonisms in the minds of men who 
hated the palest shadow of the principle that the religion of 
a prince or govertmient must be the religion of the people. 
However tolerant toward non-conformity such a state may 
show itself to be — and none will deny that Connecticut rose 
to comparatively high levels of justice in this regard ^ — the 
favoritism of government puts dissent at a disadvantage; 
and when narrow and intolerant men are at the helm of 
state, disadvantage passes rapidly into positive deprivation 
and injury. Once more, so close an alliance between poli- 
tics and religion as the Standing O'rder in Connecticut rep- 
resented, invites similar combinations on the part of men, 
some of whom have political and some religious objects to 
serve, and who, therefore, in the presence of a common foe 
gladly make common cause. All of which we shall see illus- 
trated later. 

Another general aspect of the situation in Connecticut 
concerns the development of synodical government within 
the Congregational church. At the beginning of the eigh- 
teenth century, out of a sense of the decay of religion in 
New England, as evidenced by the loosening of discipline 
and the weakening of ministerial influence,^ the clergy of 
Massachusetts attempted to buttress church government and 

^'Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America, p. 247. 

2 Walker, The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism, pp. 465 
et seq. 


ministerial authority through the " Proposals of 1705." 
These provided for the grouping of ministers in Associa- 
tions which were to function in the following ways : pastors 
were to adopt their advice in all difficult cases; ministerial 
candidates were to be examined and licensed by them ; pas- 
torless, or " bereaved " churches were to be urged to apply 
to them for candidates ; they were also to exercise a general 
oversight of religion, and to inquire into charges made 
against the character, conduct, or faith of any of their 
members. The " Proposals " also made provision for 
Standing Councils to be made up of delegates from these 
Ministerial Associations and lay members of the churches. 
These Standing Covmcils were " to consult, advise, and de- 
termine all affairs that shall be proper matter for the con- 
sideration of an ecclesiastical council within their respective 
limits." Their judgments were to be accepted as final and 
obedience was to be enforced on penalty of forfeiting 
church-fellowship.^ This bold step in the direction of 
bringing the churches of Massachusetts under more rigorous 
ecclesiastical control was not destined to succeed. Liberal- 
izing elements stirred up powerful opposition, the legisla- 
ture failed to give to the " Proposals " its support, and the 
movement fell through.^ 

A very different situation developed in Connecticut. The 
yearning for the strengthening of church government in the 
interests of a general improvement of religion was if any- 
thing stronger in that commonwealth; and a propitious 
hour for the inauguration of such a movement came when, 
in 1707, the most influential minister of the colony, Gurdon 

1 Walker, A History of the Congregational Churches in the United 
States, pp. 202 et seq. ; Greene, The Development of Religious Liberty 
in Connecticut, pp. 133 et seq. 

2 Walker, The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism, pp. 


Saltonstall, of New London, was raised to the governor's 
chair. The following May the General Court issued the 
call for the famous Saybrook Synod.^ Ministers and mes- 
sengers of the churches were to assemble in their respective 
county towns, " on the last Monday in June next ... to 
consider and agree upon those methods and rules for the 
management of ecclesiastical discipline which by them shall 
be judged agreeable and conformable to the word of God." ^ 
By these county councils ministers and delegates were to be 
chosen to meet at Saybrook, at the commencement of the 
" infant college" (i. e., Yale), there " to compare the re- 
sults of the ministers of the several counties, and out of them 
and from them to draw a form of ecclesiastical discipline 
which by two or more persons delegated by them shall be 
offered to this Court ... to be considered of and con- 
firmed by them." ^ 

The directions of the General Court were complied with. 
The doctrinal results of the Saybrook Synod are no part of 
our concern ; but this is not so with regard to its ecclesiastical 
formulations. The principles contained in the "Proposals of 
1705 " were accepted and worked out in more complete de- 
tail. Churches were to be grouped in Consociations, one or 
more in each county as the churches might determine. Cases 
of discipline too difificult of management in local congrega- 
tions were to be heard and determined by these Consocia- 
tions. Refusal to answer to the summons of a Consocia- 
tion, or to submit to its decision, incurred excommunication, 
whether a church or a pastor might be the guilty party. 
All matters relating to the installation, ordination, and dis- 
missal of ministers were to be submitted by the churches to 

1 The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. v, pp. 
51 et seq. 
' Ibid. 
» Ihid. 


these Consociations. In like manner the ministers of the 
various counties were to be grouped together in Associa- 
tions to consult concerning the affairs oi the church, pro- 
vide ministerial licensure, examine complaints, and make 
recommendations to the legislature concerning the settle- 
ment of pastors with " bereaved " churches.^ 

The result of the deliberations of the Saybrook Synod 
was laid duly before the sessions of the General Court, in 
October, 1708, and formally adopted by that body in the 
following terms : 

This Assembly do declare their great approbation of such a 
happy agreement, and do ordain that all the churches within 
this government that are or shall be thus united in doctrine, 
worship, and discipline, be, and for the future shall be owned 
and acknowledged established by law. Provided always, that 
nothing herein shall be intended and construed to hinder or 
prevent any society or church that is or shall be allowed by the 
laws of this government, who soberly differ or dissent from the 
united churches hereby established, from exercising worship 
and discipline in their own way, according to their consciences.^ 

This reestablishment of the Congregational church in 
Connecticut determined the course of events, as far as the 
religious interests of the commonwealth were concerned, for 
a hundred years to come. By this it is not meant that the 
ecclesiastical system which was thus worked out and im- 
posed upon the churches of the colony continued to operate 
in full force for that period; the Saybrook Platform was 

1 Walker, The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism, pp. 
502-506, where " The (Saybrook Meeting and Articles " are printed 
in full. For expositions, see Backus, History of New England, vol. i, 
pp. 470 et seq.; Palfrey, A History of New England, vol. iii, p. 342; 
Dexter, The Congregationalism of the last Three Hundred Years, 
pp. 489, 490. 

' The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. v, p. 87. 


abrogated in 1784. But the Congregational church in Con- 
necticut, by the act of 1708, "attained the height of its 
security and power," ^ and, as one of the chief conse- 
quences of the act, ministerial domination was accorded a 
recognition and support, the tradition of which outlived by 
at least a quarter of a century the system by which it had 
been so firmly established. 

Thus to the paternalism of the state the authority and 
sense of importance of the clergy had been added. These 
principles established, it was to be expected that the relig- 
ious history of Connecticut during the eighteenth century 
would reveal the following characteristics and tendencies : 
a disposition on the part of the state to treat the clergy of 
the Establishment as the pillars of conservative thought 
and custom ; and a disposition on the part of the clergy to 
exercise a controlling hand over all the religious activities 
of the people, as well as to react violently against all radical 
impulses and movements which appeared to endanger cen- 
tralization of government, whether ecclesiastical or political. 
Certainly these were the tendencies, expressed in the atti- 
tude of mind and the activities of the Standing Order, with 
which the forces of non-conformity and democracy had to 
contend throughout the whole of the century. 

We may now turn to take a brief survey of the more im- 
portant events in the course of this conflict. The conclud- 
ing statement of the act whereby the Connecticut General 
Court adopted the recommendations of the Saybrook 
Synod,^ gave evidence of a tender regard for the consciences 
and rights of dissenters which subsequent occurrences far 
from justified. The fact is, the act of reestablishment did 
not stand alone. Earlier in the same year (1708) the Gen- 

' Greene, The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut, 
p. 151. 
2 Cf. supra, p. 53. 


eral Court had written into tlie law of the colony another 
statute whose provisions were in no way affected by the 
later act. For the worthy object of granting liberty of wor- 
ship to sober dissenters, a liberty which they were to be 
permitted to enjoy " without let, or hindrance or molesta- 
tion," it was provided that dissenting congregations were to 
qualify {i. e., obtain license) under the law/ It was like- 
wise provided that this permission to qualify should in no 
way operate to the prejudice of the rights and privileges of 
the churches of the Establishment, or " to the excusing any 
person from paying any such minister or town dues, as are 
now, or shall hereafter be due from them." ^ This double 
burden of obtaining license and supporting the state church 
was not to be borne easily. An agitation to obtain relief 
promptly began.^ 

After two decades of efifort the Episcopalians were the 
first to meet with any measure of success. Henceforth their 
rate money was to be spent in the support of their own min- 
isters and they were no longer to be required to help build 
meeting-houses for the state church.* Two years later, re- 

1 The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. v, p. SO. 
It seems clear that either through neglect or evasion a considerable 
number of congregations failed to qualify under the law. In any 
«vent the legislature deemed itself warranted in passing an act, May, 
1721, imposing a fine of five shillings on persons convicted of not hav- 
ing attended " the publick worship of God on the 'Lord's day in some 
congregation by law allowed." (iSee ibid., vol. vi, p. 248.) Churches 
which for doctrinal or other reasons withdrew from the EstabUshment 
suflfered serious embarrassments on account of this law respecting the 
licensing of congregations. 

' Ibid., vol. v, p. so. Any infraction of this law was to be punished 
by a heavy fine. Failure to pay the fine involved heavy bail or 

3 Greene, The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut, 
pp. 191 et seq. 

* The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. vi, p. 106. 


lief was granted to Baptists and Quakers. The exemption 
laws passed in their behalf, however, made necessary the 
presentation of certificates vouching for the claims of the 
holders that they were conscientious supporters of the prin- 
ciples and faithful attendants upon the worship of one or 
the other of these bodies.^ 

The introduction of the custom of requiring certificates 
encountered the same sense of injustice and bitter resent- 
ment that dissenters in Massachusetts manifested. Besides, 
the exemption laws just referred to failed to operate in a 
uniform and equitable manner. Episcopalians and Baptists, 
particularly, found frequent occasion to complain of the 
miscarriage of this legislation and to groan under the 
double burden of taxation from which they had obtained no 
actual relief.^ 

But as in Massachusetts, so in Connecticut, the greatest 
hardships befell the Separatists who went out from the fold 
of the orthodox church. Unable to achieve within the 
Establishment that reformation of doctrine, polity, and 
spiritual life which they deemed requisite, they associated 
themselves together in churches committed to their own 
convictions. Opposition confronted them at every turn. 
Obstructions were thrown in the way of their efforts to 
obtain legal permission to constitute their churches; the 
civil power persisted in treating them as law-breakers and 
incorrigibles ; their ministers were drastically dealt with by 
Consociations which regarded them as wicked men filled with 
the spirit of insubordination.^ A group of laws as severe 

1 The Pub. Records of the Colony of Conn., vol. vi, pp. 237, 257. Un- 
like the Massachusetts exemption laws passed on behalf of these two 
bodies, these were perpetual. 

^Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society: Talcott Papers, 
vol. V, pp. 9-13; Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, pp. 98 et seq. 

^ Parker, History of the Second Church of Christ' in Hartford, 
pp. 117, 119; Papers of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, 


and intolerant as any the statute books of Connecticut ever 
contained were enacted in 1742-43 to curb and if possible 
to eradicate the Separatist defection.^ Ordained ministers 
were forbidden to preach outside the bounds of their par- 
ishes unless expressly invited so to do/ Ministerial Asso- 
ciations were restrained from licensing candidates to preach 
outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Association grant- 
ing licensure.^ Ministers of the Establishment were em- 
powered to lodge certificates with society clerks, attesting 
that men had entered their parishes and preached therein 
without first having received permission. No provision for 

vol. iv: The Bradford Annals, pp. 318 et seq. ; Backus, History of New 
England, vol. ii, pp. 57 et seq., 79 et seq. For the account of the diffi- 
culties of a particular Separatist congregation, see Button, The History 
of the North Church in New Haven, pp. 35-28. Cf. The Public Records 
of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. xi, pp. 323 et seq.; also Beardsley, 
The History of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, vol. i, p. 140. 

'The bigoted and unfeeling spirit which controlled the authorities is 
well expressed in the act of May, 1743. Proceeding on the assumption 
that the Separatists, taking advantage of the act of May, 1708, were re- 
sponsible for the disruptive tactics and measures of the times, by means 
of which " some of the parishes established by the laws of this Colony 
. . . have been greatly damnified, and by indirect means divided and 
parted," the General Court repealed the act in question, and put in its 
place the following: "And be it further enacted, that, for the future, 
if any of His Majesty's good subjects, being protestants, inhabitants of 
this Colony, that shall soberly dissent from the way of worship and 
ministry established by the laws of this Colony, that such persons may 
apply themselves to this Assembly for relief, where they shall be heard. 
And such persons as have any distinguishing citaracter, by which they 
may be known from the presbyterians or congregationalists, and from 
the consociated churches established by the laws of this Colony, may 
expect the indulgence of this Assembly [Italics mine. — ^V. iS.], having 
first before this Assembly taken the oaths and subscribed the declaration 
provided in the act of Parliament in cases of like nature." {The 
Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. viii, p. 522. Cf. 
Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, p. 58.) 

- The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. viii, p. 454. 

^Ibid., p. 456. 


ascertaining the facts in such cases was contemplated by the 
law. Justices of the peace were forbidden to sign a warrant 
authorizing the collection of a minister's rates until they 
were assured that no such certificate had been lodged against 
the clergyman involved/ Heavy bonds were to be imposed 
upon ministers from outside the colony who might venture 
to preach within its limits without invitation, with the added 
provision that such men were to be treated as vagrants and 
bundled out of the colony as speedily as possible.^ Minis- 
ters who had not been graduated from Yale or Harvard, 
or some other Protestant college or university, were de- 
barred from all benefits of ministerial support as provided 
by law.^ 

The climax of the high-handed measures of the sup- 
porters of the Establishment was doubtless reached in this 
legislation. A retrograde movement in the cause of relig- 
ious toleration set in,* the direct effects of which were not 
quickly overcome. Henceforth dissenters were to be an- 
noyed and hampered as they had not been before. The 
necessity of appearing in person before the General Court 
when seeking exemption from ecclesiastical burdens,^ the 
embarrassments and hardships that dissenting ministers 
suffered in their efforts to supply religious counsel to their 
people,* the growing aversion of the General Court to 
granting permission to unorthodox and dissenting groups 

\ The Pub. Records of the Colony of Conn., vol. viii, p. 456. 

2 Ibid., p. 457. 

2 Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, p. 57. 

*iCobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America, pp. 274 et seq. 
Greene, The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut, pp. 
244 et seq. 

'^ Cf. supra, note i, p. 57. 

^ Backus, History of New England, yo\. ii, pp. 59 et seq., 62, 65 et seq., 
77 et seq., 81 et seq. 


to organize/ all serve to indicate the strength of the re- 
action that had set in. 

The impressions produced by this excess were even more 
significant than the direct results, deplorable as the latter 
were/ In the middle of the eighteenth century the Stand- 
ing Order in Connecticut had gained for themselves an im- 
enviable record for bigotry and persecution from which the 
events of the latter half of the century by no means cleared 

For a quarter of a century following the enactment of 
the legislative measures just considered, no advance step, 
general in its nature, was taken. Here and there a little 
larger measure of freedom was doled out to this or that 
aggrieved dissenting minister or church; but the situation 
as a whole was not materially changed. " Restriction was 
the rule, freedom the exception, and government the abso- 
lute and irresponsible dispenser of both." ^ Finally, in 
1778 some evidence that a change in sentiment was under 
way appeared in the fact that Separatists were exempted 
from taxes to support the state church. Six years later, in 
1784, more satisfactory proof was forthcoming. That year, 
by the passing of an act entitled, " An Act for Securing 
the Rights of Conscience in Matters of Religion, to Chris- 
tians of Every Denomination in this State," * the General 
Court tacitly abrogated the Saybrook Platform and set the 
institutions of religion in Connecticut upon a new base. 
The act declared 

1 Greene, The Development of Re.ligious Liberty in Connecticut, 
pp. 248-262. The difficulties experienced by three congregations in New 
Haven, Canterbury, and Enfield, are dealt with in detail. 

' A revision of Connecticut laws took place in 1750. The unjust 
legislation of 1742-43 and of the following years was quietly left out. 

'Papers of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, vol. iii, pp. 
398 et seq. 

* Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticttt, in America, p. 21. 


That no Persons in this State, professing the Christian Religion, 
who soberly and conscientiously dissent from the Worship and 
Ministry by Law established in the Society wherein they dwell, 
and attend public Worship by themselves shall incur any 
Penalty for not attending the Worship and Ministry so estab- 
lished, on the Lord's-Day, or on account of their meeting to- 
gether by themselves on said Day, for public Worship in a 
Way agreeable to their consciences. 

It was further declared that Christians of every Protestant 
denomination, " whether Episcopal Church, of those Con- 
gregationalists called Separates, or of the people called Bap- 
tists, or Quakers, or any other Denomination who shall 
have formed themselves in distinct Churches or Congrega- 
tions," and who helped to maintain their worship, were to 
be exempted from the support of any other church than 
their own. Further, all such dissenting congregations were 
to enjoy the same power and privileges in the support of 
their ministry, and in the building and repairing of their 
houses of worship, as those churches which were established 
by law. Such persons as did not belong to any of these 
dissenting bodies were to be taxed for the support of the 
state church.^ 

The spirit of toleration had traveled far; but that the 
struggle for complete religious freedom was yet by no 
means won will immediately appear from the following re- 
strictions : ( I ) Protestants only were contemplated as bene- 
ficiaries under the act; (2) the principle of taxation for the 
support of the state church was retained; (3) the obligation 
to support some form of 'Christian worship was required; 
(4) the benefits of that provision of the act which guaranteed 
to dissenters exemption from ecclesiastical taxation were to 
be available only on the condition that a certificate, signed 

^ Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut, in America, p. 21. 


by an officer of a dissenting congregation, should be de- 
posited with the clerk of the state church near which the 
dissenter lived. 

A formidable number of the objectionable features of the 
older legislation were thus retained. The state church was 
still in existence. Taxation for the support of religion was 
still the law of the commonwealth. Dissenters were still 
compelled to put themselves to the trouble and humiliation 
of obtaining the detested certificates. Besides, the ghost of 
religious persecution was not yet laid. Goods and chattels 
of the religiously indifferent, or of conscientious dissenters^ 
continued to be seized and sold by officers of the law, to 
discharge unsatisfied levies made for the support of the 

The principle of requiring certificates proved to be the 
chief bone of contention between the Standing Order and 
dissenters as the century drew to its close. The rapid 
growth of dissenting bodies in the period following the 
Revolution, aided as they were by a zeal for proselyting on 
the part of their leaders and by a set of the public mind de- 
cidedly favorable to their propaganda because of their 
democratic leanings, was met by corresponding anxiety 
and sternness on the part of the supporters of the Estab- 
lishment. Confusing, as they habitually did, the interests 
of the state church with the cause of religion, the repre- 
sentatives of the Standing Order led themselves to believe 
that a contagion of irreligion was spreading alarmingly, 
and therefore restrictive religious legislation was in 
order. ^ In line with this conviction, in May, 1791, the 

1 Parker, History of the Second Church of Hartford, pp. 170, 171. 
Cf. Beecher, Autobiography, Correspondence, etc., vol. i, p. 302. The 
latter's account of the situation is much softened by his sympathies 
with the dominant party. 

' By this time dissenters and Anti-Federalists had largely consolidated 


legislature enacted a law requiring dissenters to have their 
certificates signed by at least one, and preferably two, civil 
officers, instead of as provided in the act of 1784. This 
law proved peculiarly distasteful to dissenters/ A powerful 
opposition developed; and the authorities, made aware of 
the fact that they had over-reached themselves, six months 
later withdrew the obnoxious act, substituting for it an- 
other which permitted each dissenter to write and sign his 
own certificate, but requiring him, as before, to file it with 
the clerk of the state church near which he lived.^ The 
momentary wrath of dissenters was thus mollified; how- 
ever, the retention of the certificate principle continued to gall 
and to excite them. A disagreeable discussion dragged itself 
along, marked by acrimony, pettiness, and personal attacks 
on both sides ; by a consolidation of the forces and interests 
of dissenters and Republicans on the one hand, and a grow- 
ing sense of injured innocence and of concern for the fate 
of religion on the part of the Standing Order.® 

their interests. The political program of the latter drew upon the 
former all the suspicions and antagonisms which the Standing Order 
entertained toward the foes of Federalism. The acrimonious discus- 
sion which arose at this time over the disposition of the Western 
Reserve and the funds thus derived, admirably illustrates the cross- 
currents of religious and political agitation in the last decade of the 
century. Cf. Greene, The Development of Religious Liberty in Con- 
necticut, pp. 380-392. 

' This is readily explicable in view of the fact that most of the magis- 
trates were adherents of the Establishment. The comment of Backus 
touches the pith of the matter, as dissenters saw it: "Thus the civil 
authority in the uppermost religious party in their State, was to judge 
the consciences of all men who dissented from their worship." {His- 
tory of New England, vol. ii, p. 345.) 

2 Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut, p. 418. 

3 In September, 1818, by the adoption of the new state constitution, 
the long wearisome struggle was brought to an end, and State and 
Church in Connecticut were separated completely. 


(c) Summary 
By way of summary, a few general comments, based upon 
the situation in Massachusetts and Connecticut jointly con- 
sidered, are now in order. Looking back upon the activities 
of the Standing Order after the lapse of something more 
than a century, we see that they were zealously contending 
for an ideal which had won their whole allegiance — a body 
politic safeguarded and made secure by a state church. To 
prevent deterioration of the state and its people the bulwark 
of a religion established by law seemed imperative.^ The 
interests involved were far too serious to put them at the 
mercy of a voluntary support of the institutions of religion.^ 
Moreover, an established church seemed to this group of 
men no necessary enemy of non-conformity. The degree 
of toleration possible under an establishment of religion 
was deemed sufficient actually to favor the growth of sects, 
and at the same time to make the sway of orthodoxy 

' This point of view was tersely set forth in the election sermon 
preached by the Rev. Mr. Payson, at Boston, May 27, 1778: "Let the 
restraints of religion once be broken down, as they infallibly would 
be by leaving the subject of public worship to the humours of the 
multitude, and we might well defy all human wisdom and power to 
support and preserve order and government in the state." — Quoted 
by Backus, Church History of New England, from i6zo to 1804 (ed. 
of 1844, Philadelphia), pp. 204 et seq. 

' The state of feelings shared by the supporters of the Establishment 
at the time when the blow fell severing the bond between the church 
and state in Connecticut, is vividly expressed by Beecher : " It was a 
ti;ne of great depression. ... It was as dark a day- as ever I saw. 
The injury done to the cause of Christ, as we then supposed, was ir- 
reparable. For several days I suffered what no tongue can tell for the 
best thing that ever happened to the State of Connecticut." {Autobio- 
graphy, Correspondence, etc., vol. i, p. 304.) 

"This was the view propounded by President Ezra Stiles, of Yale, 
in his election sermon of May 8, 1783: "Through the liberty enjoyed 
here, all religious sects will grow up into large and respectable bodies. 


How, then, were men of such opinions to interpret the 
ever-growing agitation for a larger measure of toleration, 
accompanied as it was by an ever-growing resentment 
toward the political influence and activities of the Standing 
Order, as anything other than a covert attack upon religion 
itself ? These bitter complainings over the religious meas- 
ures adopted by government, these flauntings of authority 
through stubborn refusal or passive resistance to the pay- 
ment of ecclesiastical rates, these unrelenting efforts to dis- 
possess the clergy of the Establishment of their traditional 
honors and emoluments — what were they all but so many 
proofs of the impiety of the age and an abominable con- 
spiracy to drive pure religion from the land ? As the repre- 
sentatives of the Standing Order saw the situation, the 
church was obviously in grave danger and to steady the 
tottering ark of the Lord was the most imperative duty of 
the hour. 

On the other hand, in the light of the growing liberality 
of the times, it was impossible for the forces of dissent to 
be patient with such men. They were men of the past, cal- 
lously unresponsive to the spirit of the new age. They 
were an embittered minority, exerting themselves to keep a 
struggling and confident majority a little longer under their 
thumb. They were mischievous meddlers in the affairs of 
others, using religion as a cloak to hide their social and 

But the Congregational and Presbyterian denominations, however 
hitherto despised, will, by the blessing of Heaven, continue to hold the 
greatest figure-in America, and, notwithstanding all the fruitless labors 
and exertions to proselyte us to other communions, become more nu- 
merous than the whole collective body of our fellow protestants in 
Europe." (Quoted by Backus, History of New England, vol. ii, p. 312.) 
To this exposition and bold forecast Backus took decided objections, 
on the grounds (i) that persecution and not tolerance had promoted 
the growth of sects in America, and (2) that the numerical increase of 
the Congregationalists and Presbyterians in this country did not justify 
any such prediction. Cf. ibid., pp. 403-407. 


political self-seeking. As for the cry, " The church is in 
danger !", that was to be regarded as the most signal proof 
of the hypocrisy of those who raised it/ 

' Perhaps no man more boldly stated this interpretation of the motives 
that inspired the Standing Order than Abraham Bishop, leader of the 
forces of Republicanism in Connecticut and arch-enemy of " ecclesias- 
tical aristocrats." "The religion of the country is made a stalking 
horse for political jockies . . . Thanksgiving and fasts have been often 
improved for political purposes and the miserable gleanings from half 
a year's ignorance of the true interests of our country have been palmed 
on the people, by the political clergy, as a pious compliance with the 
governor's very pious proclamations. . . . The union of Church and 
State . . . [is] the grand fortress of the ' friends of order and good 
government.'" (^Oration delivered at Wallingford, New Haven, 1801, 
pp. 46, 83.) That " the church is in danger " has for some time past 
been one of the most frequent and frantic of all the absurd cries 
Tieard in the land, and that New England through her clannishness has 
produced " patriarchs in opinion " who assume the prerogative of dic- 
tating the opinions of the people on all subjects, are further trenchant 
•comments of the same orator. (Ibid., pp. 13, 17.) Bishop's observa- 
tions respecting the alleged specious and insincere character of those 
public utterances by which " the friends of order and good govern- 
ment " sought to preserve the status quo, are equally pointed. " The 
sailor nailed the needle of his compass to the cardinal point and swore 
that it should not be always traversing. So does the New England 
friend of order : but he cautiously conceals the oppression and im- 
posture, which sustains these habits. . . . This cry of steady habits 
"has a talismanic effect on the minds of our people; but nothing can 
"be more hollow, vain and deceitful. Recollect for a moment that every- 
thing valuable in our world has been at one time innovation, illumina- 
tism, modern philosophy, atheism. . . . Our steady habits have calmly 
assumed domination over the rights of conscience and suffrage. Cer- 
tainly the trinitarian doctrine is established by law and the denial of 
it is placed in the rank follies. Though we have ceased to transport 
from town to town, quakers, new lights, and baptists; yet the dis- 
senters from our prevaiHng denomination are, even at this moment, 
praying for the repeal of those laws which abridge the rights of 
conscience." (Ibid., pp. 14, 16.) 



During the eighteenth century the progress of religious 
thought in New England in the direction of liberal positions 
was marked. Near the beginning of the century, in his 
Ratio Disciplinae, Cotton Mather was able to speak confi- 
dently of the solid and compact character of religious opin- 
ion in his generation, and felt free to dispose of the subject 
with a few general statements regarding the universal ad- 
herence of the churches of New England to the orthodox 
standards of the mother country. He made the added com- 
ment : " I can not learn. That among all the Pastors of Two 
Hundred Churches, there is one Arminian : much less Arian, 
or a Gentilist." ^ At the end of the century, it is very cer- 
tain that no such all-inclusive generalization, by the widest 
stretch of the imagination, would have been possible. In- 
deed, when a noted Philadelphia minister of the day, the 
Reverend Ashbel Green, visited New England in 1791, he 
found an aptitude for polemical discussion on the part of 
the clergy which impressed him as most extraordinary. 
Through his contact with the Boston Ministerial Associa- 
tion he encountered " Calvinists, Universalists, Arminians, 
Arians," and at least one " Socinian," all participating in 
pleasant social intercourse, despite their radical differences 
of religious opinion. To the mind of the visiting Philadel- 
phia clergyman the situation was explicable only on the basis 
of an extreme laxness in the matter of religious sentiments 
and doctrines, a judgment which obviously requires some 
modification in view of the predilection for doctrinal con- 
troversy which he himself remarked.^ 

From the days of the Great Awakening, the lines of doc- 

' Quoted by Walker, in his History of the Congregational Churches 
in the United States, p. 216. 

2 Green, Life, pp. 224, 223. 


trinal cleavage had grown increasingly distinct in the relig- 
ious thought of New England. Apart from those effects of 
the revival which already have been noted/ it may be said 
that the one really permanent result of that notable wave of 
religious enthusiasm was the polemical controversy which it 
precipitated.^ The question concerning the " means of 
grace," around which the controversy in its initial stage 
raged/ became larger and more complicated by virtue of the 
massive system of theology which Jonathan Edwards de- 
veloped upon the fundamental notion of the utter worth- 
lessness of man, due to his depravity and consequent help- 

Into the metaphysical subtleties of the Edwardean system 
we are not called to go; it is sufficient to observe that the 
reaction against such a conception of human nature was 
bound to be marked in the midst of an age generally respon- 
sive to enthusiasms born of fresh conceptions of the essen- 

1 Cf. supra, pp. 36 and 37 et seq. 

' See Walker, Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism, p. 287. 

' The lowest point of religious decline in the history of New England 
was reached in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. The absence 
of vital piety was generally remarked. The prevailing type of religious 
experience was unemotional and formal. The adoption of the Half- 
Way Covenant in the third quarter of the previous century helped to 
precipitate a state of things wherein the ordinary distinctions between 
the converted and the unconverted were largely obscured. Emphasis 
came to be laid heavily upon the cultivation of morahty as a means of 
promoting spiritual life. Prayer, the reading of the Bible, and church 
attendance were other " means "- In other words, man's part in the 
acquisition of religious experience came prominently into view. The 
promoters of the revival attacked these notions, asserting that repent- 
ance and faith were still fundamentally necessary and that the ex- 
perience of conversion, i. e., the conscious sense of a change in one's 
relation to God, was the prime test of one's hope of salvation. Charles 
Chauncy, minister of the First Church, Boston, in his Seasonable 
Thoughts on the State of Religion in New England (1743), championed 
the former position; the great Edwards came to the defence of the 


tial dignity and worth of man. The virtue of humility was 
destined to divest itself of much of that abject quality with 
which the whole Calvinistic theology had clothed it, and to 
accommodate itself to candid and unblushing convictions of 
human endowments, abilities, excellencies, and prospects, 
because of which it would be impossible to retain the tradi- 
tional contempt for human nature.^ 

The reaction against the Edwardean theology was fruit- 
ful in the encouragement of liberal notions along other 
closely related lines. The bold necessitarianism of that 
system could not but produce an effect generally favorable 
to the promotion of man's confidence in himself, in the 
midst of an age characterized by prodigious political initia- 
tive and love of liberty, and by conceptions of the Deity 
which stressed the very vastness of those reaches of space 
stretching between God and the world. The heavy emphasis 
which the new theological system laid upon the notion of 
the divine sovereignty, true as it was in spirit to the tradi- 
tional Puritan interest in the cause of theocracy, was 
doomed to find itself belated within an age beginning to 
glow with humanitarian passion and with enthusiasm for 
the ideal of democracy; and, positively considered, to give 
impulse in the general direction just noted. The very heat 
and intensity of the controversy which, from the middle of 
the century on, filled New England with its din and con- 
fusion, in itself bore witness to the degree of pressure which 
the more secularized notions of human worth and destiny 
had begun to exert. That a system so staggering in its 
assumptions, so all but invulnerable in its logical self- 
consistency, and withal so inexorable in its demands upon 
the human spirit for the abandonment of all thought of in- 
dependent ability and worth, having been brought to close 

1 Channing, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 287-290, 387. Cf. also Goddard, 
Studies in New England Transeendentalism, pp. 13 et seq. 


quarters with more or less vague and undefined, but none 
the less vital human interests and passions, should tend to 
give rise to a variety of radical opinions and judgments, 
was to be expected. And thus it operated,^ not, to be sure, 
without the assistance of significant concurrent causes. 

^ Riley, American Philosophy, p. 192. Note: It is not here main- 
tained that radical religious ideas in New England had their 
earliest roots, or found their sole stimulus, in the controversy which 
the theological formulations incident to the Great Awakening pro- 
voked. Incipient religious liberalism is distinguishable as far back 
as the publication, of Cotton Mather's Reasonable Religion, in 1713. 
In his erudite essay on " The Beginnings of Arrainianism in New Eng- 
land," F. A. Christie adopts the position that prior to the Great Awaken- 
ing there were rumor and alarm over the mere arrival of Arminian doc- 
trines in this country; but that after 1742 the heresy spread rapidly, 
chiefly due to the growth of the Episcopal church, with its marked 
leanings to the Arminian theology. Cf. Papers of the American So- 
ciety of Church History, Second Series, vol. iii, pp. 168 et seq. But 
however that may be, the cause of Arminianism during the eighteenth 
century was promoted by men in New England who drew at least a 
part of their inspiration from the writings of leaders of thought in the 
mother country whose theological positions inclined strongly toward 
rationalism. Cf. Cooke, Unitarianism in America, pp. 39, 44 et seq., 79. 
Harvard College, from the close of the seventeenth century on, was 
increasingly recognized as a center of liberalizing tendencies, although 
none will dispute that the kernel of intellectual independence was 
found, all too frequently, well hidden within the tough shell of tradi- 
tional conceits. Cf. Quincy, The History of Harvard University, vol. 
i, pp. 44-57, 199 et seq. Independent impulses were largely responsible 
for the following events which mark the definite emergence of Uni- 
tarianism in America: the organization of the first New England Uni- 
tarian congregation at Gloucester, Mass., in 1779; the publication in 
this country, five years later, of the iLondon edition of Dr. Charles 
Chauncy's Salvation for All Men; and the defection from Trinitarian 
standards of King's Chapel, Boston, in 1785-87. Still it must be main- 
tained that the controversies which raged around the doctrines of the 
New Calvinism beyond all other factors stiffened the inclinations and 
tendencies of the century toward liberal thinking. Such terms as 
"Arminianism ", " Pelagianism ", " Socinianism ", "Arianism ", etc., 
which occur with ever-increasing frequency from the fourth decade 
of the century on, are in themselves suggestive of the divergencies in 
religious opinion which the doctrinal discussion incident to the Great 
Awakening provoked. Cf. Fiske, A Century of Science and Other 
Essays : " The Origins of Liberal Thought in America ", pp. 148 et seq. 


The wash of the wave of the great deistic controversy on 
the other side of the Atlantic was not without its effect upon 
the religious thought of New England. The direct evidence 
of this is, however, much more elusive than one might at 
first suppose/ That the reading public was acquainted with 
the writings of the great English deists, Herbert, Chubb, 
Shaftesbury, Tindal, Wollaston, Toland, Hume, is clear 
from references to their works which appear with consider- 
able frequency in the private and public records of the day ; 
but invariably these references are made in a more or less 
casual manner, and, for the most part, in connection with 
sweeping generalizations made by the clergy respecting the 
prevailing scepticism of the age. Apart from such allusions 
and the appearance of titles in the lists of booksellers who 
were advertising their stocks in the newspapers, it would 
be difficult to cite specific evidence, Thomas Paine's Age of 
Reason alone excepted, to the effect that the impact of Eng- 
lish deism upon the thought of New England was anything 
like direct. 

The amount of independent literary expression which the 
doctrines of deism obtained in New England was practi- 
cally negligible.^ The quality was even less noteworthy. 

' As a typical illustration the comment of Lyman Beecher may be 
cited : " The Deistic controversy was an existing thing, and the battle 
was hot, the crisis exciting." (Autobiography, Correspondence, etc., 
vol. i, p. 52.) The date is about 1798. In the same connection Presi- 
dent Dwight of Yale is referred to as " the great stirrer-up of that 
[{. e., the deistic] controversy on this side the Atlantic." ilbid.) It 
is certain that Dwight had some acquaintance with the works of the 
leading English deists, and that he opposed their views. Cf. Travels 
in New England and New York, vol. iv, p. 362; but his main target 
was infidelity of the French school. Beecher fails to distinguish be- 
tween the two. 

* One discovers no convincing evidence that the deistical views of 
Benjamin Frankhn produced any direct effect upon the thought of New 
England. As respects Thomas Jefferson the case was different. But 


Ethan Allen's Reason the Only Oracle of Man,^ published 
in 1784, was perhaps the only production of native origin 
to which anything like general attention was accorded ; and 
the evident inability of this work to root itself deeply in the 
thought of the people, despite the prestige due to the 
author's Revolutionary record, was demonstrated the mo- 
ment Paine's more serious work began to circulate in this 
country. The crudeness of Allen's style, coupled with the 
ferocity of his onslaught on the advocates and absurdly 
credulous devotees of supernaturalism, as Allen regarded 
the orthodox party of his day, went far toward determin- 
ing the attitude of contempt and high-minded scorn with 
which his work was generally treated, when leaders of con- 
servative thought deigned to notice it at all.^ 

New England Federalists were so successful in keeping public attention 
fixed on Jefferson's fondness for French political and religious philo- 
sophy, that his alleged " French infidelity " rather than his opinions 
concerning natural religion became and continued to be the bone of 
contention. That he was regarded as a deist is, however, not to be 
questioned. Bentley, Diary, vol. iii, p. 20. 

^ Allen's book of some 477 pages bore the following pretentious and 
rambling title : Reason the only Oracle of Man, or a Compendius Sys- 
tem of Natural Religion. Alternately Adorned with Confutations of 
a Variety of Doctrines incompatible to it; Deduced from the Most 
Exalted Ideas which we are able to form of the Divine and Human 
Characters, and from the Universe in General. By Ethan Allen, Esq. 
Bennington, State of Vermont. The Preface is dated July 2, 1782. 
Evans records the fact that the entire edition, except about thirty 
copies, was destroyed by fire, said to have been caused by lightning, an 
event which the orthodox construed as a judgment from heaven on 
account of the nature of the book. Cf. American Bibliography, vol. 
vi, p. 266. The author's aim has been interpreted as an effort " to build 
up a system of natural religion on the basis of a deity expressed in the 
external universe, as interpreted by the reason of man, in which the 
author includes the moral consciousness." (Moncure D. Conway in 
Open Court [magazine], January 28, 1892, article: "Ethan Allen's 
Oracles of Reason," p. sup-) 

2 The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, vol. iii, p. 345- The comment 
of Yale's president is fairly representative: "And the 13th Inst died 


But Thomas Paine's attack upon the foundations of 

in Vermont the profane & impious Deist Gen lEthan Allen, Author of 
the Oracles of Reason, a Book replete with scurrilous Reflexions on 
Revelation. 'And in Hell he lift up his Eyes being in Torments.' " 
(Ibid.) In 1787, at Litchfield, Connecticut, where Allen's home had 
once been, there was published an anonymous sermon, from the text: 
"And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks which the 
swine did eat." (LtJce 15: 16.) The sermon was planned to counter- 
act the effect produced by the " prophane, prayerless, graceless infidel," 
Allen, through the publication of the book in question. The author, 
"Common Sense" (apparently Josiah Sherman), adopts for his ser- 
mon the caption, "A Sermon to Swine," and explains in the Advertise- 
ment the temper of his mood : " By way of apology, I hope Gen. Allen 
will pardon any reproach that may be supposable, in comparing him 
to the Prodigal Son, sent by the Citizen into his fields to feed Swine 
with husks, when he considers, what an infinitely greater reproach he 
casts upon the holy oracles of God, and upon his Prophets, Apostles 
and Ministers, and upon the Lord of life and glory himself; at whose 
tribunal we must all shortly appear ; when he represents Him as an im- 
postor and cheat, and all the blessed doctrines of the gospel as false- 
hood and lies." (A Sermon to Swine: From Luke xv: 16 . . . Con- 
taining a concise, hut sufficient answer to General Allen's Oracles of 
Reason. By Common Sense, A. M., Litchfield, 1787.) 

An amusing albeit suggestive episode is recorded by William Bentley 
in his Diary, in connection with certain reflections on the dangers in- 
volved in the loaning of books : "Allen's oracles of reason . . . was lent 
to Col. C under solemn promise of secrecy, but by him sent to a Mr. 
Grafton, who was reported to have died a Confirmed Infidel. . . . The 
book was found at his death in his chamber, examined with horror by 
his female relations. By them conveyed to a Mr. Williams ... & there 
examined — reported to be mine from the initials W. B., viewed as an 
awful curiosity by hundreds, connected with a report that I encour- 
aged infidelity in Grafton by my prayers with him in his dying hour, 
& upon the whole a terrible opposition to me fixed in the minds of 
the devout & ignorant multitude." {Ibid., vol. i, p. 82.) 

The following extract from Timothy Dwight's poem on The Triumph 
of Infidelity supplies another interesting contemporaneous estimate of 
Allen's assault upon revelation : 

" In vain thro realms of nonsense ran 
The great Clodhopping oracle of man. 
Yet faithful were his toils : What could he more? 
In Satan's cause he bustled, bruised and swore ; 
And what the due reward, from me shall know. 
For gentlemen of equal worth below." 


supernaturalism was by no means taken lightly. From the 
time of its arrival in this country, the Age of Reason pro- 
duced an amount of excited comment which gave to its ap- 
pearance and circulation all the elements of a sensation.^ 
The natural interest of the public in the appearance of the 
production was admittedly great; but at least a partial ex- 
planation of the attention which the book received is to be 
found in the fact that its author was able to effect plans to 
have the work published cheaply abroad and extensively 
circulated in this country.^ In any event, whatever may 

A foot-note explains the point in the last two lines : " In A n's 

Journal, the writer observes, he presumes he shall be treated in the 
future world as well as other gentlemen of equal merit are treated : 
A sentiment in which all his countrymen will join." {The Triumph of 
InHdelity: A Poem. [Anonjrmous], 1788, pp. 23 et seq. The copy re- 
ferred to is dedicated by the author " To Mens, de Voltaire.") 

1 The Age of Reason.; Part I, appeared in America in 1794. Cf. The 
Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, edited by Moncure Daniel Conway, 
New York, igoi, p. vii; also advertisements of its offer for sale, 
Massachusetts Spy (Worcester), Nov. 19, 17914. The Connecticut 
Courant (Hartford), Jan. 19, and Feb. 9, 1795, contains examples of 
pained newspaper comment. Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 7. 

"At least fifteen thousand copies of the second part of the book 
arrived in America in the spring of 1796, despatched from Paris by 
Paine, consigned to his Philadelphia friend, Mr. Franklin Bache, Re- 
publican printer, editor, and ardent servant of radicalism generally. It 
was clearly Paine's purpose to influence as many minds in America as 
possible. Cf. Conway, The Writings of Thomas Paine, vol. iv, p. 15 ; 
Paine's letter to Col. Fellows, in New York, explaining the forwarding 
of the books. This effort to obtain a general circulation of the Age of 
Reason did not escape the attention of men who were disturbed over 
the prevailing evidences of irreligion. In a fast day sermon, delivered 
in April, 1799, the Reverend Daniel Dana, of Newburyport, Massachu- 
setts, called attention to the matter in the following fashion : "... let 
me mention a fact which ought to excite universal alarm and horror. 
The well-known and detestable pamphlet of Thomas Paine, written 
with a professed design to revile the Christian religion, and to diffuse 
the poison of infidelity, was composed in France, was there printed 
in English, and an edition containing many thousand of copies, con- 
veyed at a single time into our country, in order to be sold at a cheap 


have been the precise influences which promoted the distri- 
bution and perusal of the book, the Age of Reason aroused 
an immediate pubHc interest, chiefly antagonistic, the like of 
which probably had been accorded to no other volume cir- 
culated in America before its day. The bumptious and mili- 
tant nature of its deism, as well as its raw and unceremon- 
ious ridicule of much that passed in the thought of the times 
for essential orthodoxy, drew popular attention from the 
worthier and more exalted passages in the volume,^ dnd 

rate, or given away, as might best ensure its circulation. What bane- 
ful success has attended this vile and insidious effort, you need not 
be told. That infidelity has had, for several years past, a rapid in- 
crease among us, seems a truth generally acknowledged." (Two Ser- 
mons, delivered April 25, 1799: the day recommended by the President 
of the United States for National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer. 
By Daniel Dana, A. M., pastor of a church in Newburyport, 1799, 
p. 45). Cf. also ibid., p. 20. 

' The Age of Reason was written from the standpoint of a man who 
believed that the disassociation of religion from political institutions, 
and the elimination from it of fiction and fable, would bring in the 
true religion of humanity. The following excerpt sets out the au- 
thor's approach and aim : " Soon after I had published the pamphlet, 
' Common Sense ', in America I saw the exceeding probability that a 
revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revo- 
lution in the system of religion. The adulterous connection of church 
and state, wherever it had taken place, whether Jewish, Christian, or 
Turkish, had so effectually prohibited by pains and penalties every dis- 
cussion upon established creeds, and upon first principles of religion, 
that until the system of government should be changed those subjects 
could not be brought fairly and openly before the world; but that 
whenever this should be done a revolution in the system of religion 
would follow. Human inventions and priestcraft would be detected; 
and man would return to the pure, unmixed, and unadulterated belief 
of one God and no more." {The Writings of Thomas Paine, vol. ii, 
pp. 22 et seq.) Paine's exposition of the tenets of natural religion was far 
from scholarly, and as soon as the public became aware of the eccen- 
tric and uneven character of the book, the storm of criticism speedily 
blew itself out. The recoil of Paine's ugly attack upon Washington, 
in the same year in which the Age of Reason was extensively circulated 
in this country, materially helped to discredit the book. 


irritated the opposition beyond control. A vociferous 
chorus of hostile criticism arose/ Qergymen poured out 

' A partial list of the books and pamphlets, separate discourses not 
included, which were published in this country immediately following 
the appearance of the Age of Reason will serve to emphasize the depth 
of the impression which Paine's book made: (l) Priestley, Joseph, An 
Answer to Mr. Paine's Age of Reason; being a Continuation of 
Letters to the Philosophers and Politicians of France, on the Subject 
of Religion; and of the Letters of a Philosophical Unbeliever. Second 
Edition. Northumberlandtown, America, 1794; (2) Williams, Thomas, 
The Age of Infidelity: an Answer to Thomas Paine's Age of Reason. 
By a Layman (pseud.). Third Edition, Worcester, Mass., 1794; (.2) 
Stilwell, Samuel, A Guide to Reason, or an Examination of Thomas 
Paine's Age of Reason, and Investigation of the True and Fabulous 
Theology, New York, 1794; (4) Winchester, Elhanan, Ten Letters Ad- 
dressed to Mr. Paine, in Answer to His Pamphlet, entitled The Age of 
Reason, Second Edition, New York, 179s; (S) Ogden, Uzal, Antidote 
to Deism. The Deist Unmasked ; or an Ample Refutation of all the 
Objections of Thomas Paine, Against the Christian Religion; as Con- 
tained in a Pamphlet, intitled {sic), The Age of Reason, etc., Two 
volumes, Newark, 179s; (6) Broaddus, Andrew, The Age of Reason 
and Revelation; or Animadversions on Mr. Thomas Paine's late piece, 
intitled "The Age of Reason", etc. . . . Richmond, 1795 ; (7) Muir, 
James, An Examination of the Principles Contained in the Age of 
Reason. In Ten Discourses, Baltimore, 179S; (8) Belknap, Jeremy, 
Dissertations on the Character, Death & Resurrection of Jesus Christ 
. . . with remarks on some sentiments advanced in a book intitled " The 
Age of Reason," Boston, 179s; (9) Humphreys, Daniel, The Bible Needs 
no Apology; or Watson's System of Religion Refuted; and the Advo- 
cate Proved an Unreliable One, by the Bible Itself: of which a short 
view is given, and which itself gives a short answer to Paine: in Four 
Letters, on Watson's Apology for the Bible, and Paine's Age of Reason, 
Part the Second, Portsmouth, 1796; (10) Tytler, James, Paints Second 
Part of the Age of Reason Answered, Salem, 1796; (11) Fowler, James, 
The Truth of the Bible Fairly Put to the Test, by Confronting the 
Evidences of Its Own Facts, Alexandria, 1797; (12) Levy, David, A 
Defence of the Old Testament, in a Series of Letters, addressed to 
Thomas Paine, Author of a Book entitled. The Age of Reason, Part 
Second, etc. . . . New York, 1797; (13) Williams, Thomas, Christian- 
ity Vindicated in the admirable speech of the Hon. Theo. Erskine, in the 
Trial of J. Williams, for Publishing Paine's Age of Reason, Philadel- 
phia, 1797; (14) Snyder, G., The Age of Reason Unreasonable ; or the 
Folly of Rejecting Revealed Religion, Philadelphia, 1798; (15) Nelson, 


the vials of their wrath and execration, despite their evident 
desire to appear undisturbed; newspaper editors and con- 
tributors gave voluminous expression to their sense of 
chagrin and pained disappointment that so scandalous and 
impious a publication should be in circulation ; ^ observers 
of and participants in the college life of the day felt called 
upon to lament the extent to which unsettling opinions of 
the nature of those expressed by Paine had laid hold of the 
imaginations and altered the convictions of youthful minds.* 
The impression that Paine had aided and abetted the cause 
of impiety and irreligion was general.' 

D., An Investigation of that False, Fabulous and Blasphemous Mis- 
representation of Truth, set forth by Thomas Paine, in his two volumes, 
entitled The Age of Reason, etc. (This volume appears to have been 
published pseudonsmiously. Advertised in Lancaster, Pa., Intelligencer 
and Advertiser, October, 1800); (16) Boudinot, Elias, The Age of 
Revelation, Or, The Age of Reason shewn to be an Age of Infidelity, 
Philadelphia, 1801. 

1 Cf. Morse, The Federalist Party in Massachusetts, Appendix I, 
pp. 217 et seq., for a detailed and fairly satisfactory statement of the 
character and extent of the discussion which Paine's book precipitated 
in New England. 

2 Qianning, Memoirs, vol. i, pp. 60, 61. On the latter page it is 
asserted that in order to counteract such fatal principles as those 
expressed in the Age. of Reason, the patrons and governors of Harvard 
College had Watson's Apology for the Bible published and furnished 
to the students at the expense of the corporation. This was in 1796. 
Beecher's Autobiography, Correspondence, etc., vol. i, pp. 30, 35, 52, 
touches upon the situation at Yale. Cf. Dwight, Theology: Explained 
and Defended, vol. i, pp. xxv, xxvi. The extensive prevalence of in- 
fidelity among Yale students is commented upon and the statement 
made that a considerable proportion of the class which President 
Dwight first taught (179S-96) "had assumed the names of principal 
English and French Infidels ; and were more familiarly known by them 
than by their own." {Ibid.) Cf. Dorchester, Christianity in the United 
States, p. 319. 

' The impression lingered on after the stir caused by the appearance 
of the Age of Reason. In 1803 Paine was in southern New England. 
His presence was disturbing, as the following comment of William 


It was not the doctrinal controversies of the period, how- 
ever, nor yet the intrusion of the principles of natural re- 
ligion, by which the unsettling tendencies of the times were 
believed to be promoted most directly and powerfully. In 
the judgment of practically every leader of conservative 
thought in New England, and of all America for that mat- 
ter, that unholy preeminence belonged to the effed; produced 
upon the public mind in this country by the French Revolu- 
tion, and more especially the impious principles of infidelity 
and atheism by which, they concluded, that colossal over- 
turning of institutions was stimulated and guided. No 
single phenomenon of our national history stands out in 
sharper relief than the impression which the great Euro- 
pean convulsion made, first upon the imaginations and later 
upon the political and religious ideals of the citizens of this 
young republic in the West, who followed the earlier for- 
tunes of the French Revolutionary cause with breathless in- 
terest and concern. The memory of the recent struggle of 
the American colonists for independence, for the happy 
issue of which France had made such timely and substantial 
contributions, in itself supplied a pledge of profound sym- 
pathy for that country. That the spark of revolution had 
been communicated originally by America to France was, 
moreover, one of the favorite conceits of the day. Grati- 
tude, the bonds of political friendship and alliance, the sup- 
posed similarity of popular enthusiasms and passions — all 
the essential factors requisite for the development of a spirit 
of tender and affectionate regard were clearly present. 

Bentley will show : " Reports are circulated that Thomas Paine intends 
to visit New England. The name is enough. Every person has ideas 
of him. Some respect his genius and dread the man. Some rever- 
ence his political, while they hate his reUgious, opinions. iSome love 
the man, but not his private manners. Indeed he has done nothing 
which has not extremes in it. He never appears but we love and hate 
him. He is as great a paradox as ever appeared in human nature." 
{Diary, vol. iii, p. 37- Cf. ibid., vol. ii, pp. 102, 107, 145.) 


Thus it happened that from the hour when the first rum- 
blings of the impending European revolution were heard on 
this side of the Atlantic, the citizens of these states evinced 
an earnest and sympathetic concern; ^ and as the revolu- 
tionary drama unfolded through its earlier scenes the en- 
thusiasm and lively sympathy of the people grew apace. 
The atmosphere was electric. Anticipations of citizens ran 
high. Liberty was again in travail.^ The institutions of 
freedom were about to descend upon another nation. The 
shackles of political and ecclesiastical tyranny were being 
torn from the limbs of twenty-five millions of slaves.' 
Having revolutionized France, America's ideals might be 
expected to leaven the whole of Europe.* The millennium 
could not be far away. Admiration for the French cause 
and devotion to it swept all before them. So much so that 
when, in the autumn and winter of 1792-93, the thrilling 
news of the successes achieved by the French armies in re- 
pelling the invaders of the new republic began to arrive in 
America, a wave of irresistible and uncontrolled enthusiasm 
swept over the land." The " French Frenzy," with its 
maudlin outbursts of professed attachment for the great 
watchwords of the Revolution — Liberty, EquaHty, Frater- 
nity — with its pageants and civic feasts, its cockades and 
liberty caps, its ribald singing of republican songs and dra- 
matic intertwinings of the standards of the two sister repub- 
lics, deserves a place altogether by itself as an extraordinary 
expression of the public mind. 

1 Hazen, Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolution, 
pp. 141 et seq, 

2 Ibid., p. 143. 

2 Dwight, Travels, vol. iv, p. 361. 

* Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. v, pp. 154, 274 ; Massachu- 
setts Historical Collections, Sixth Series, vol. iv, Belknap Papers, p. 503. 

° The entire episode is treated with great fullness and equal vivid- 
ness by Hazen, Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolu- 
tion, pp. 164-188. 


To this wild riot of tumultuous and spectacular enthu- 
siasm an effectual check was soon to be given. With the 
execution of Louis XVI, in January, 1793, the admiration 
of the more thoughtful observers of the Revolution, who 
had accustomed themselves to pass soberly but apologetically 
over the earlier excesses of the revolutionists as unavoidable 
concomitants of a struggle necessarily desperate in its char- 
acter,^ received a rude shock.^ The brutal death of a mon- 
arch whose personal services on behalf of their own cause 
during the days of deep necessity had been considerable, 
brought home to American citizens their first clear convic- 
tion respecting the excessively bloody and relentless spirit of 
the forces in control of the Revolution. The day of dis- 
illusionment had dawned. Leaders of thought made no 
effort to conceal their sense of mingled horror and regret. 
The amount of popular sympathy for the cause of the Revo- 
lution was still too great to allow anything approaching 
a general condemnation; but none the less a decided chill 
was felt.* 

1 Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. vi, pp. 153 et seq. 

' From the first, devotion to the French cause had not been quite 
unanimous. Here and there, scattered through the country, a man 
might be found who from the beginning of the Revolution had cherished 
misgivings as to the essential soundness of the principles of the French 
in the conflict they were waging with despotism. Occasionally a man 
had ventured to speak out, voicing apprehension and doubt, although 
usually preferring to adopt the device of pseudonymity. Conspicuous 
in this by no means large group were the elder and the younger Adams, 
the former declaring himself in his "Discourses on Davila" {Cf. The 
Life and Works of John Adams, vol. vi, pp. 223-403), and the latter in 
the " Publicola " letters, written in 1791, in response to Paine's treatise 
on "The Rights of Man". Morse, John Quincy Adams, p. 18. 
But events, much more than political treatises, were to break the spell 
which the Revolution in its earlier stages cast over the people of 

'No better testimony concerning the unfavorable impression created 
by the execution of the French king could be had than that supplied by 


The murder of the king soon enough appeared to Amer- 
icans a mere incident in a wild orgy of unbridled violence 
and blood-letting. A stream of information concerning the 
swift march of events in France, mostly having to do with 
enormities and excesses which gave all too patent proof of 
the fury of the currents of passion upon which the par- 
ticipants in the Revolution were being tossed, began to 
pour its waters through the channels of public utterance 

the comment of Salem's republican minister, the Reverend William 
Bentley. Under date of March 25, 1793, he wrote: "The melancholy- 
news of the beheading of the Roi de France is confirmed in the public 
opinion, & the event is regretted most sincerely by all thinking people. 
The french lose much of their influence upon the hearts of the Ameri- 
cans by this event." (Diary, vol. ii, p. 13. Cf. Hazen, Contemporary 
American Opinion of the French Revolution, pp. 254 et seq.) This 
thrill of public horror also found expression in the following lines 
taken from a broadside of the day : 

" When Mobs triumphant seize the rheins, 

And guide the Car of State, 
Monarchs will feel the galling chains, 

And meet the worst of fate : 
For instance, view the Gallic shore, 

A nation, once polite 
■See what confusion hovers o'er, 

A Star, that shone so bright. 
Then from the scene recoil with dread. 

For LOUIS is no more. 
The barb'rous Mob cut off his head, 

And drank the spouting gore. 
Shall we, the Sons of FREEiDOM dare 

Against so vile a Race? 
Unless we mean ourselves to bare (sic) 

The palm of their disgrace. 
No ! God forbid, the man who feels 

The force of pity's call, 
To join those Brutes, whose sentence seals, 

Whose hearts are made of gall." (The Tragedy of Louis 
Capet, and Printed next the venerable Stump of Liberty Tree, for J. 
Plumer, Jun., Trader, of Newbury- port.) (In Vol. 21 of Broadsides, 
Library of Congress.) 


and discussion in America. The atrocities of the Reign 
of Terror brought fully home to the American public, to 
the conservative-minded particularly, the conviction that the 
Revolution had become diverted from its original principles 
and aims, and had descended to the plane of brutal despot- 
ism, reprehensible both in principle and practice above any- 
thing the eyes of men had ever beheld/ The leaders of the 
Revolution clearly were not the high-minded patriots and 
emancipators their admirers on this side of the ocean had 
adjudged them to be. The terms " assassin," " savage," 
" monster," " regicide," began to be employed as the only 
fit terms whereby to characterize the leading figures in an 
awful spectacle of butchery and rapine.^ 

But not until the religious aspects of the French Revolu- 
tion are considered, is the deep revulsion of feeling which 
took place in New England completely laid bare. This fea- 
ture of the situation had been regarded with deep solicitude 
from the beginning ; "^ and as time went on through the 
cloud of confusion raised by the dust and smoke of the 
political developments of the Revolution, it became increas- 

1 Webster, The Revolution in France considered in Respect to its 
Progress and Effects, New York, 1794. Webster's discriminating 
pamphlet is one of the most suggestive of all American contemporaneous 
documents. Cf. Hazen, Contemporary American Opinion of the French 
Revolution, p. 259. 

2 For characteristic outbursts of this nature, cf. Adams, Life and 
Works, vol. ii, p. 160; Gibbs, Memoirs of the Administrations of 
Washington and John Adams, vol. i, p. 90. Typical newspaper com- 
ment similar in vein may be found in the Western Star (Stockbridge, 
Mass.), March 11, 1794, and the Gazette of the United States (Phila- 
delphia), April 13, 1793. 

' As early as 1790 John Adams had spoken of the French nation as 
a "republic of atheists." {Works, vol. ix, p. 563.) Other leaders 
responded to similar sentiments. (Hazen, Contemporary American 
Opinion of the French Revolution, p. 266.) Familiarity with French 
philosophical and religious opinions before the French Revolution had 
supplied a basis for this concern. 


ingly clear to the conservative class in New England that an 
alliance between the forces of anarchy and impiety had been 
effected. What else could explain the rapid development of 
a fierce reforming spirit, which in turn, within the space 
of not more than two or three years at the most, stood forth 
as a spirit of overt persecution in the handling of all eccle- 
siastical affairs? The vociferous afifirmation of deistical 
and atheistical principles on the part of Revolutionary lead- 
ers in the councils of clubs and in sessions of the National 
Assembly, the reiteration and growing boldness of the de- 
mand for the elimination of the ancient system of religious 
faith, the successive efforts to supplant that system, first 
with the cult of Reason and later with the cult of the 
Supreme Being, — how were these to be construed other than 
as the expressions and performances of men who were bent 
upon the utter abolition of the Christian faith ? There was 
wanting in New England, of course, intimate knowledge of 
the true state of French religious affairs and of the re- 
actionary spirit displayed by the higher clergy and their de- 
votion to the cause of monarchy. Little was known of the 
growing sense of resentment felt by a people who had begun 
to contemplate frankly the burdens which had been imposed 
upon them under the ancient regime, the multiplication of 
religious offices and establishments, the absorption of the 
land into vast ecclesiastical estates, and the indifference 
of the spiritual guides of the nation to private and public 
distress. It was hardly to be expected that spectators as 
far removed from the scene as the shores of New England 
would be able to interpret correctly the essential spirit of a 
people who had grown weary of the abuses of a religious 
system in whose principles and purer forms they still be- 
lieved, despite the momentary violence of their leaders.* 

1 Aulard, Le culte de la Raison et de I'Etre supreme, pp. 17 et seq. 
Cf. Sloane, The French Revolution and Religious Reform, pp. 53, 79. 


By the year 1794 the belief that the revolutionists in 
France had added atheism to their program of anarchy was 
well established in New England. The difficulty of weigh- 
ing this opinion exactly is greatly enhanced on account of 
the political handling which the situation received. Over 
the question of foreign alliances the Federalists and Repub- 
licans had split violently in 1793. The war which had 
broken out between England and France, regarded from 
any point of view, was of vast consequence in the eyes of 
the citizens of this young nation, just beginning to cope 
with the problems of diplomacy and international relations. 
The outbreak of hostilities between the two European 
nations with which the United States had had and must 
continue to have its most intimate and important inter- 
course forced an alignment among its citizens so sharp and 
decisive as to constitute the outstanding political feature of 
the country for years to come.^ For reasons which we shall 
not now pause to consider. Federalists championed the cause 
of England in the European conflict, and Republicans the 
cause of France. Seizing upon the issue of " French in- 
fidelity," Federalist editors were disposed to see in it the 
gravest peril by which the American people were threatened. 
The anti-religious spirit of the French Revolutionary lead- 
ers represented a danger-point of infection against which 
every citizen must needs be warned. On the other hand, 
Republican editors felt it incumbent upon them to do their 
utmost to minimize the genuineness and importance of all 
such damaging views of the case.^ 

97. The effort to dechristianize the institutions of religion in France 
is admitted by both writers, but the superficial occasion of this hostile 
effort is made clear. 

1 Cf. infra, pp. 103 et seq. 

^ The practice of looking to the religious situation tn France for 
ammunition to serve the artillery of political parties in America, is 


But considerations of party advantage fall far short of 
furnishing a full explanation of the general sense of alarm 
the people of New England experienced on account of the 
open hostility to religion which they saw manifest in France. 
Out of France came a series of reports which taken together 
were calculated to raise their fears to the highest pitch. 
The confiscation of the property of the church, the abolition 
of religious vows, the promulgation of the "Civil Constitu- 
tion of the Clergy," ^ the banishment of non-juror priests, 
the infamy of the Goddess of Reason, the abolition of the 
Christian Sabbath, the secularization of festivals ^ — here 
were evidences of impiety as shameless as they were shock- 
well illustrated in the following instances : The Western Star of March 
25, 1794, dwelt at length upon the depravity of French irreligion, and 
asserted that the lack of public alarm in this country must be accepted 
as convincing evidence that the American public has already yielded 
itself to the seductive influence and power of atheistical opinions. On 
the other hand, the Independent Chronicle, issues of March 6 and July 
24, 1794, pounces upon Robespierre's scheme for the rehabilitation of 
religion under the guise of the cult of the Supreme Being, and with 
great gusto asserts that here is the positive and sufficient proof that 
the charge of atheism which has been lodged against the 'Revolution- 
ists is as baseless as it is wicked. An examination of the newspaper 
comment of the day supplies abundant warrant that this crying up 
and crying down of the charge of French infidelity went far in the 
direction of investing the political situation in New England with those 
characteristics of bitter and extravagant crimination and recrimination 
with which all political discussion in that section, as in fact throughout 
the entire country, near the close of the eighteenth century, was so 
deeply marked. 

' By the adoption of this measure the Catholic clergy in France were 
turned into state officials. The relation of the Pope to the French 
clergy became that of a spiritual guide and counsellor only. The prin- 
ciple of territorial limitation on the part of ecclesiastics was also 
abolished. Cf. Sloane, The French Revolution and Religious Reform, 
pp. 121 et seq. 

'Aulard, r/i^ French Revolution, vol. iii, pp. 152-191, gives an ex- 
cellent resume of the dechristianizing movement. 


ing/ Such principles and measures appeared as so many 
deadly thrusts at the Christian faith. It was difficult, if not 
impossible, for the most sympathetic admirers of France to 
find a way to explain this ominous cast of events.^ 

How thoroughly the fear of " French infidelity " had 
gripped the imaginations of men in New England will ap- 
pear more clearly if the following considerations are weighed. 
The presumption that the intimate relations which Amer- 
icans had been having with the people of France had pro- 
duced a serious blight of morals and religion among the 
former, seemed to find its justification in the currents of 
skepticism and irreverence which, by common consent, had 
set in among the youth of the land. This phase of the situa- 
tion as reflected in conditions within the colleges was held 
to be particularly deplorable. It was the settled conviction 
of President Dwight of Yale that " the infidelity of Vol- 
taire and his coadjutors " had a special attractiveness for 
youth, for reasons which do not impress one as being highly 
charitable, to say the least : 

Youths particularly, who had been liberally educated, and who 
with strong passions, and feeble principles, were votaries of 
sensuality and ambition, delighted with the prospect of unre- 
strained gratification, and panting to be enrolled with men of 
fashion and splendour, became enamored of these new doc- 
trines. The tenour of opinion, and even of conversation, was 
to a considerable extent changed at once. Striplings, scarcely 
fledged, suddenly found that the world had been involved in a 
general darkness, through the long succession of the preceding 

' The conservative press of America saw to it that this information 
did not escape the attention of its readers. Cf. Hazen, Contemporary 
American Opinion of the French Revolution, pp. 267 et seq. Cf. Morse, 
The Federalist Party in Massachusetts, pp. 80-87, 98 et seq. 

2 Hazen, Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolu- 
tion, pp. 269 et seq. 


ages ; and that the light of wisdom had just begun to dawn upon 
the human race. All the science, all the information, which 
had been acquired before the commencement of the last thirty 
or forty years, stood in their view for nothing. . . . Religion 
they discovered on the one hand to be a vision of dotards and 
nurses, and on the other a system of fraud and trick, imposed 
by priestcraft for base purposes upon the ignorant multitude. 
Revelation they found was without authority, or evidence ; and 
moral obligation a cobweb, which might indeed entangle flies, 
but by which creatures of a stronger wing nobly disdained to 
be confined.^ 

This somewhat theoretical view of the case was not un- 
supported by tangible evidence. The students of Yale were 
sceptical.^ In the religious discussions of the lecture-rooms 
the cause of infidelity stood high in student favor. ^ Of 
seventy-six members of the class that graduated in 1802 
only one was a professed Christian at the time of matricu- 
lation.* At the time President Dwight entered upon the 
leadership of the college, the college church was practically 
extinct.'' Altogether the situation was highly alarming to 
the friends of Christianity.' 

The condition of affairs at Harvard showed little if any 
improvement. When William Ellery Channing matric- 
ulated in that institution in 1794 he found the thought and 

' Dwight, Travels, vol. iv, p. 362. 

2 Beecher, Autobiography, Correspondence, etc., vol. i, p. 30. 

* Baldwin, Annals of Yale College . . . From Its Foundation to the 
Year 1831, New Haven, 1831, p. 146. 

* Field, Brief Memoirs of the Members of the Class Graduated 
at Yale College in September, 1802. (^Printed for private distribution), 
p. 9. 

^ Beecher, Autobiography, Correspondence, etc., vol. i, p. 30. 

® Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, vol. ii, pp. 164, 165. 
Cf. Sketches of Yale College, with Numerous Anecdotes . . . New York, 
1843, p. 136. 


principles of the students on a lower level than they ever 
before had reached/ The French Revolution, which gen- 
erally throughout the country had shown itself to be con- 
taminating, already had left its marks deep upon the life of 
the college. The old loyalties were shaken; conversation 
had become bold and daring in tone; the foundations upon 
which morals and religion had been built in the past were 
now believed to be seriously undermined.^ 

On the part of men who held themselves responsible for 
the education of youth, everywhere the feeling prevailed 
that a popular mood of skepticism had developed for which 
the precepts and example of the French were chiefly respon- 

With the clergy — and in their state of mind we are 
interested especially — this feeling was hardly less than an 
obsession. The special conservators of the moral and re- 
ligious health of the people, they had long been concerned 
over the possible effects of radical French political and re- 
ligious notions; and when they seemed to see the triumph 
of those notions in the excesses of the French Revolution, 
their sense of alarm was intense. It was, of course, the ex- 
hibition of violent hostility to organized Christianity in 
France which the Revolutionists were making, over which 
their hands were flung high in horror. 

The clergy of New England, like the majority of their 
fellow-countrymen, in the beginning had not adopted an 
attitude of hostility toward the French upheaval. There 
was that in the earlier struggles of the French people to tear 
the yoke of despotism from their necks which appealed 
mightily to the sympathies of the clerical heart. It was not 
without some travail of spirit that clergymen arrived at the 

1 Memoir of William Ellery Channing, vol. i, p. 60. 
' Ibid. Sidney Willard, in his Memories of Youth and Manhood, 
vol. ii, p. loi, tones down the picture appreciably. 


conclusion that their sympathy and enthusiasm for the 
French Revolution had been misplaced/ Two factors con- 
tributed to this result. In the first place, the changed com- 
plexion of the Revolution; in the second place, the new 
party alignments at home which brought the orthodox 
clergy, almost to a man, into the Federalist camp. 

Which of these two factors was the more decisive in its 
power of control over the clerical mind, it would be difficult 
to say. As a matter of fact, the two influences were inter- 
related to an extraordinary degree. Political alignments, as 
we have seen, were interwoven closely with the question of 
foreign alliances. Conversely, the status of foreign affairs 
was bound to react strongly upon the judgments of clergy- 
men with whom patriotic concerns were second in impor- 
tance only to the interests of religion. Be that as it may, the 
years 1 793 and 1 794 saw the Federalist clergy in New Eng- 
land rapidly veering round to the fixed position of vehement 
antagonism to French principles. The following is a brief 
account of the course they pursued. 

On the occasion of the annual fast in Massachusetts, 
April II, 1793, the Reverend David Tappan, professor of 
divinity in Harvard College, preached a sermon that indi- 
cated the trend of a clerical mind.^ In language not un- 
marked by vagueness, he called upon his hearers to bear 
witness to the present corrupted state of religion, due to the 
bold advance and rapid diffusion of " sceptical, deistical, 
and other loose and pernicious sentiments." Waxing more 
confident, he continued : " May I not add that a species of 
atheistical philosophy, which has of late triumphantly reared 
its head in Europe, and which affects to be the offspring 

1 Morse, The Federalist Party in Massachusetts, pp. 88 et seq. 

' A Sermon Delivered to the First Congregation in Cambridge, and 
the Religious Society in Charlestown, April 11, 1793. By David Tappan, 
A. M., Professor of Divinity in Harvard- College, Boston, 1793. 


and the nurse of sound reason, science, and liberty, seems in 
danger of infecting some of the more sprightly and free- 
thinking geniuses of America." ^ 

Something more than a year later, a pulpit deliverance 
was made at Medford, Massachusetts, on the occasion of the 
annual state Thanksgiving, which supplied ample evidence 
that clerical fears were rapidly gathering force. Medford's 
minister, the Reverend David Osgood,^ was heard in a vig- 
orous discussion of the leading political and religious con- 
cerns of the day.* First taking occasion to eulogize the 

' Ibid., p. 16. 

'David Osgood (,1747-1822) was one of the best known New England 
clergymen of his day. Possessing a fondness for unusual public oc- 
casions, such as state and church festivals, he acquired the habit of 
turning them to account by way of airing his political and religious 
ideas, a custom which drew to him the cordial support of the Federal 
school to which he belonged, and the no less cordial contempt of the 
Republicans. Cf. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, vol. ii, 
pp. 75, 7(>- 

'The predilection of the New England clergy for political preaching 
requires a word. The clergy emerged from the period of the American 
Revolution with their reputation considerably enhanced. The oause of 
the struggling colonists they had supported with resolution and ability 
and their moral force had shown itself remarkably effective. It is 
also to be noted that .from the settlement of the country, the clergy 
had been extraordinarily influential in the direction of public affairs. 
They were the intimates and advisers of public officials as well as 
the trusted counsellors of the people. After the setting up of the 
government most of the questions which agitated the public mind had 
definite moral and religious aspects. The New England clergy would 
have regarded themselves as seriously remiss and therefore culpable 
had they not spoken out upon the burning questions of the day. With 
the intrusion of foreign affairs into the sphere of American politics the 
impulse in the direction of political preaching was decidedly strength- 
ened. Definite issues regarding morality and religion were thus raised, 
and the passions of patriotism and religious devotion became inex- 
tricably woven together. Love, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days 
of New England, p. 363; Swift, The Massachusetts Election Ser- 
mons: Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. i : 
TransOjCtions, 1892-1894, pp. 422 et seq. 


Federal government by way of atonement for the failure of 
Governor Samuel Adams to make reference to the same in 
his Thanksgiving proclamation, the reverend gentleman 
thereupon launched into a vehement denunciation of the 
Democratic Societies/ because of their subservience to for- 
eign emissaries, and because of the outrageous activities of 
Minister Genet. Not content with this, he proceeded to lay 
heavy emphasis upon the ferocious zeal and desperate fury 
which the French were manifesting in their attacks upon the 
institutions of religion, the far-reaching import of which, 
he declared, was already apparent in the fact that, under the 
power of their blind devotion to the French cause, not a 
few American citizens were casting off their allegiance to 
the Christian religion.^ 

The notes of warning sounded by Osgood in this sermon 
were both clear and loud. They fell on numerous sympa- 
thetic and responsive ears. Committed promptly to type, 
the sermon passed rapidly through six editions, a sufficient 
proof of the extent of the sensation which it produced. Its 
author's reputation was established; but beyond this, and 
what is more to 'the point, the shibboleths of future clerical 
pronouncements had been uttered. Henceforth the public 

'The Democratic Societies (or Clubs), to which fuller attention is 
given on pp. 104 et seq., instantly assumed a position of first importance 
in the minds of many clergymen of New England. Coupled as their 
emergence was with the amazing performances of Genet, they had the 
effect of suggesting to the clerical mind the fatal thrust at religion 
which might, and probably would result, on account of their sub- 
terranean operations. This idea of a secret combination against the 
institutions of religion in America, which proved to have a powerful 
attraction for many clerical minds, was definitely related to the spasm 
of anxiety and fear which swept the country when the presence of 
these secret clubs became generally known. 

^Cf. [Osgood, David], The Wonderful Works of God are to he 
Remembered. A Sermon delivered on the day of the Annual Thanks- 
giving, November 20, 1794, Boston, 1794, pp. 21 et seq. 


utterances of the Federal clergy were to be characterized by 
a violent antagonism to the French Revolution and the 
spread of French influence in America.^ 

The chorus of clerical complaint on account of the dan- 
gers that threatened the cause of religion, either because of 
the progress of the Revolution abroad or the overt and 
secret diffusion of infidel principles at home, grew steadily 
in volume. One or two added instances of this type of 
pulpit utterance will suffice. 

Tappan was again heard from, in February, 1795, on the 
day set for the observance of the national thanksgiving.^ 
He dealt with the political situation at length, and empha- 

-^ On account of the virulence of party feeling, it was not to be expected 
that Osgood would succeed in stating the case in a manner acceptable 
to all. Popular opinion respecting the wisdom and fairness of Os- 
good's performance was far from unanimous. An opposition, inspired 
by political interests, quickly developed, to which Republican news- 
papers willingly enough gave voice. The Independent Chronicle of 
Dec. II, 1794, contains typical expressions of adverse comment. An 
exceptionally forceful counter-attack was made in the guise of an 
anonymous " sermon", entitled : " The Altar of Baal Thrown Down: or. 
The French Nation Defended, Against the Pulpit Slander of David 
Osgood, A. M., Pastor of the Church in Medford. Par Citoyten de 
Novion." The author of this pamphlet, who, as time demonstrated, 
was none other than James Sullivan, later governor of Massachusetts, 
right valiantly took up the cudgel in defence of the French. The 
French, he argues, are to be regarded as a mighty nation by whom 
our own nation has been preserved from destruction. Their excesses 
are most charitably and fairly explained in the light of the frightful 
oppressions which they had long suffered. Their attitude toward 
religion should not be regarded as hostile. The French strike only 
at a clergy who have linked their power with that of the nobility, and 
who together have made the people's lot intolerable. Cf. ibid., pp. 12 
et seq. The entire sermon abounds in caustic criticism of Osgood 
for having stepped " out of ... line to gratify a party." 

2 Christian Thankfulness Explained and Enforced. A Sermon, 
delivered at Chariest own, in the afternoon of February 19, IT9S- The 
day of general thanksgiving through the United States. By David 
Tappan, D. D., Hollisian Professor of Divinity in Harvard College, 
Boston, 1795. 


sized particularly the destructive effects of French influence. 
Before his sermon was committed to the hands of the prin- 
ter, Tappan was made acquainted with the fact that the 
minister of Rowley, the Reverend Ebenezer Bradford, had 
made certain apologetic comments, on the occasion of the 
■ national thanksgiving, respecting the importance of French 
success to the peace and tranquility of America, and the 
propriety of seeking the reason for the recent insurrection 
in western Pennsylvania in " impolitic laws " rather than in 
French influence exerted through Democratic Qubs,^ as 
Federalists had made bold to claim.^ To these observations 
Tappan made the following sharp retort : 

The destructive efifects of them [i. e., secret political clubs] in 
France have been noticed in the preceding discourse. Their 
unhappy influence in this country is sufficiently exemplified in 
that spirit of falsehood, of party and faction, which some of 
I them, at least, assiduously and too successfully promote, and 
especially in the late dangerous and expensive western insur- 
rection, which may be evidently traced, in a great degree, to 

1 The Nature and Manner of Giving Thanks to God, Illustrated. 
A sermon, delivered on the day of the national thanksgiving, February 
19, 1795- By Ebenezer Bradford, A. M., pastor of the First Qiurch in 
Rowley, Boston, 1795. 

' The so-called " Whiskey Rebellion " came in for a considerable 
amount of hostile comment on the part of the Federalist clergy at this 
time. Generally speaking, the New England clergy felt sure of their 
ground respecting the alleged causal relation between the Democratic 
Clubs and the Pennsylvania uprising. 'Hence it happened that the 
tone of clerical condemnation with respect to everything which had, 
the semblance of a secret propaganda was appreciably heightened. 
The moralizing tendencies of the clergy with respect to the secret 
combinations which were believed to be back of the " Whiskey Rc' 
bellion " is well illustrated in the following : A Sermon, delivered 
February 19, 1795, being a day of general thanksgiving throughout the 
United States of America. By Joseph Dana, A. M., pastor of the 
South Church in Ipswich. Newburyport, 1795. Cf. also, Wolcott 
Papers, vol. viii, 7. 


the inflamatory representations and proceedings of these clubs, 
their abettors and friends.^ 

Medford's minister acquitted himself with something 
more than his customary fiery earnestness on the occasion 
of this same national festival. Mounting his pulpit, he pic- 
tured to his hearers " the reign of a ferocious and atheis- 
tical anarchy in France," whose authors had " formed the 
design of bringing other nations to fraternize with them in 
their infernal principles and conduct." ^ Their emissaries, 
Osgood argued, have spread themselves abroad and entered 
into every country open to them. In Geneva these aban- 
doned creatures have been " horribly successful in over- 
throwing a free government but lately established, and in 
bringing on, in imitation of what had happened in their own 
country, one revolution after another." The same identical 
agents have found their way into the United States and 
have begun here their poisonous fraternizing system.^ The 
sermon as a whole could scarcely have been more violent in 
tone. It is very clear that Osgood had resolved to do what 
he could to rouse the country. 

As a direct result of this kind of pulpit utterance — a re- 
sult that doubtless had much to do with persuading the 
clergy that an alarming decline of religion was under way 
in New England — the charge of " political preaching " 
rapidly developed into one of the standing accusations of 
the day. The bitterness of party strife grew apace. Oppo- 
sition to Federalist measures of government, such as Jay's 
Treaty and the handling of diplomatic relations with France, 

^ Tappan's Sermon, p. z^- 

' A Discourse, delivered February 19, 1795. The day set apart by 
the President for a general thanksgiving throughout the United States. 
By David Osgood, A. M., pastor of the church in Medford, Boston, 
1795, p. 18. 

3 Ibid., pp. 18, 19. 


mounted steadily higher. In consequence, the Federal 
clergy found themselves drawn farther and farther into 
the maelstrom of political discussion. Out of this developed 
the sentiments entertained by the opposition that the clergy 
were the tools of the Federalists, and that public occasions 
were eagerly pounced upon by them and used to promote 
the cause of party advantage. 

This shaft struck home; and yet not so much in the 
nature of a personal affront as an added proof that a state 
of deep impiety had settled down upon the land. Well 
might the clergy lament, not that they had been so foully 
slandered, but that they were called upon to reckon with a 
people who had drifted out so far upon the sea of irrever- 
ence and disrespect. To illustrate: The Reverend Jeremy 
Belknap was before the convention of the clergy of Massa- 
chusetts, in May, 1796, to preach the convention sermon. 
His mind turned to this new burden which had lately fallen 
on the already heavily-laden shoulders of the ministry. 
Thus he sought to mollify the wounded feelings of his 
brethren : 

Another of the afflictions to which we are exposed, is the re- 
sentment of pretended patriots, when we oppose their views in 
endeavoring to serve our country. There is a monopolizing 
spirit in some politicians, which would exclude clergymen from 
all attention to matters of state and government ; which would 
prohibit us from bringing political subjects into the pulpit, 
and even threaten us with the loss of our livings if we move at 
all in the political Sphere. But, my brethren, I consider politics 
as intimately connected with morality, and both with religion. 
. . . How liberal are some tongues, some pens, and some 
presses, with their abuse, when we appear warm and zealous in 
the cause of our country ! When we speak or write in support 
of its liberties, its constitution, its peace and its honor, we are 
stigmatized as busy-bodies, as tools of a party, as meddling with 


what does not belong to us, and usurping authority over our 

A couple of years later another staunch clerical supporter 
of Federalist policies, the Revefepd John Thornton Kirk- 
land, minister of the New South Church in Boston, came 
somewhat closer to the main point. The spirit of the times, 
he urged, had greatly changed, and that for the worse. 
Clerg)Tnen now were being severely censured for what 
only a few years earlier they had been warmly com- 
mended for as constituting a peculiar merit. The leaders of 
the American Revolution, for example, had praised the 
clergy for throwing the weight of their influence into the 
political scale, recognizing that there exists a moral and re- 
ligious as well as a civil obligation on the part of ministers 
to warn the people of the dangers which threaten their lib- 
erty and happiness. But now, however, at a time when the 
dearest interests of religion and patriotism, of church and 
state, are fiercely assailed and imperiled, the clergy are met 
with calumny and insult when they venture to speak out. 
Only the debasement of morals and piety could explain so 
lamentable a transformation.^ 

A growing sensitiveness to the objections of Republican 
partisans that they were stepping aside from the legitimate 
responsibilities of their calling and prostituting the func- 

' A Sermon, delivered before the Convention of the Clergy of Massa- 
chusetts, in Boston, May 26, 1796. By Jeremy Belknap, minister of the 
church in Federal-Street, Boston. Boston, 1796, pp. 15 et seq. A 
similar note was struck by Tappan in the convention of the following 
year. Cf. Sermon, delivered before the Ainntal Convention of the 
Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts, in Boston, June i, 1797, 
Boston, 1797, p. 26. 

'A Sermon, delivered on the gth of May, 1798. Being the day of a 
National Fast, Recommended by the President of the United States. 
By John Thornton Kirkland, minister of the New South Church, 
Boston. Boston, 1798, pp. 18 et seq. 



tions of their sacred office to unworthy ends, is apparent on 
the part of the dergy;^'but when the very slander and 
abuse wliich they suffered supplied added evidence, if that 
..were needed, that the institutions of religion and of govern- 
ment were being rapidly undermined, there could be no 
damping of their spirit nof turning back from the perform- 
ance of a service, however unappreciated, to which by tra- 
dition and by present necessity they believed themselves 

Thus matters stood with the clergy of the Standing Order 
in New England at the close of the eighteenth century. 
Whether they were mistaken or not, a state of general irre- 
ligion seemed to them to have been ushered in. On all sides 
the positions of traditional orthodoxy were being called in 
question. The cause of revealed religion had found new 
enemies, and the cause of natural religion new agencies for 
its promotion. The French Revolution had given a terrify- 
ing exhibition of what might be expected to happen to a 
nation in which radical and sceptical opinions were allowed 
to have complete expression. As for the progress of im- 
piety at home, the youth of the land were contaminated, the 
state of public morals was unsound, opposition to measures 
of government was increasing in power and virulence, the 
institutions of religion were commanding less and less re- 
spect, the clergy were treated with a coldness and critical- 
ness of spirit they had never faced before. Seeking for the 

' Complaints of the nature indicated, and justifications of ministerial 
conduct in continuing the practice of " political preaching " increase in 
number from about 1796 on. The following examples are picked 
almost at random : The sermon preached by John Eliot at the ordin- 
ation of Joseph M'Kean, Milton, Mass., November i, 1797, Boston, 
'^797, P- 33; James Abercrombie's Fast Day Sermon, May 9, 1798, Phila- 
delphia, Philadelphia, (n. d.) ; Eliphalet Porter's Fast Day Sermon of 
the same date, at Roxbury, Boston, 1798, p. 22; Samuel Miller's Fast 
Day Sermon, also of the same date, at New York, New York, 1798. 


causes of this baneful condition of affairs, the clergy be- 
lieved they were to be found mainly in the dissemination of 
revolutionary opinions issuing from France, but in part 
also in native tendencies to exalt reason and throw off the 
restraints of government in church and state. 

Before taking leave of the subject, a few final illustra- 
tions may be considered by way of fixing upon the mind the 
strength of this general impression which the New England 
clergy entertained. 

On the occasion of the general fast, May 4, 1 797, at West 
Springfield, Massachusetts, the Reverend Joseph Lathrop 
preached a sermon to which he gave the expressive title, 
God's Challenge to InHdels to Defend Their Cause. ^ The 
inspiration of the discourse was drawn from the conviction 
that " this is a day when infidelity appears with unusual 
boldness, and advances with threatening progress, to the 
hazard of our national freedom and happiness, as well as to 
the danger of our future salvation."^ According to this in- 
terpreter of the signs of the times, the dissemination of in- 
fidelity was to be regarded as the outstanding fact in the 
life of America, as well as in the life of the world. 

An unusually lugubrious view of the situation was that 
taken by the Reverend Nathan Strong, in the sermon which 
he preached, April 6, 1798, on the occasion of the Connec- 
ticut state fast. In the eyes of this modem Jeremiah, the 
situation was desperate almost beyond remedy : 

There are dark and ominous appearances. I do not mean 
the wrath and threatening of any foreign nations whatever, 
for if we please God and procure him on our side, we may bless 

' God's Challenge to Infidels to Defend Their Cause, Illustrated and 
Applied in a Sermon, delivered in West Springfield, May 4, 1797, being 
the day of the General Fast. By Joseph Lathrop, minister . . . Second 
Ed., Cambridge, 1803. 

' Ibid., p. 4. 


his providence, and hear human threatenings without emotion. 
But the dark omens are to be found at home. In our hearts, 
in our homes, in our practice, and in a licentious spirit disposed 
to break down civil and religious order. In affecting to depend 
on reason in the things of religion, more than the word of God ; 
so as to reject all evangelical holiness, faith in Jesus Christ, 
the Son of God, and the ministrations of the spirit in the heart. 
In substituting anarchy and licentiousness, in the room of ra- 
tional and just liberty. In supposing that freedom consists 
in men's doing what is right in their own eyes ; even though 
their eyes look through the mist of wicked ambition and lust. 
Here is our real danger, and these are the omens that augur 
ill to us.^ 

Far less subjective in its analysis was the sermon which 
the now celebrated minister of Medford, the Reverend 
David Osgood, preached not many days later, on the occa- 
sion of the national fast.^ Once more the eyes of his hear- 
ers were invited to contemplate the horrible spectacle abroad. 
It had now become certain that the legislators of France 
had abolished the Qiristian religion. Preposterous indeed 
was the idea of those who supposed that they were engaged 
in anything so beneficent as " stripping the whore of Baby- 
lon, pulling down the man of sin, destroying popery," and 

^ A Sermon, preached on the State Fast, April 6th, 1798. ... By Nathan 
Strong, pastor of the North Presbyterian Church in Hartford. Hart- 
ford, 1798, pp. 14 et seq. 

'Some Facts evincive of the Atheistical, Anarchical, and in other 
respects. Immoral Principles of the French Republicans, Stated in a 

sermon delivered on the gth of Afay, r/g8 By David Osgood . . . 

Boston, 1798. 

'One of the curious results of the reflection of the American clergy 
on the significance of the French Revolution was a marked disposition 
to treat the Roman Catholic Church with unwonted sympathy and re- 
spect. Osgood's implied apology not infrequently received an unblush- 
ingly frank statement. Cf. for example, Nathan Strong's Connecticut 
Fast Day Sermon, cited above. 


making way for the introduction of the millennium. That 
which they had set their hearts upon was to bring it to pass 
that Christ and His religion should no longer be remem- 
bered upon the earth. The French republicans were so 
many internals who had broken loose from the pit below.^ 
Their profession of principles of liberty and philanthropy 
were deceptive in the highest degree. They sought to frat- 
ernize with other nations merely to seduce them. Their 
emissaries employed the arts of intrigue and corruption, 
they were charged to stir up factions, seditions, rebellions, 
so as to disorganize established governments and- make 
them more readily the prey of the infamous French gov- 

That these were not the pulpit utterances of men of pecu- 
liarly morbid dispositions, who stood apart from the main 
currents of thought and life in their day, would seem to be 
proved by the following instances of formal declarations 
issued by associations of churches. 

On the 17th of May, 1798, the General Assembly of the 
Presbyterian Church in the United States, then in session 
in the city of Philadelphia, issued an address to the mem- 
bers of its various congregations scattered throughout the 
country, urging attention to the extraordinarily gloomy 
aspect of affairs. The situation was interpreted as follows : 

• This estimate of the case appealed to Osgood's mind and 
satisfied his fancy. A year later he was heard on the following subject: 
The Devil Let Loose; or The Wo occasioned to the Inhabitants of the 
Earth by His Wrathful Appearance among Them. For lurid rhetoric 
Osgood outdid himself on this occasion. " Not in France only, but in 
various other countries, is the devil let loose; iniquity abounds; un- 
clean spirits, like frogs in the houses and kneading-troughs of the 
Egyptians, have gone forth to the kings and rulers of the earth, . . . 
the armies of Gog and Magog are gathered together in open hostility 
against all unrighteousness, truth and goodness." {The Devil Let 
Loose, etc. Illustrated in a Discourse, delivered on the Day of the 
National Fast, April 25, 1799, Boston, 1799, pp. 13 et seq.) 

2 Some Facts Evincive, etc., pp. 13, 16 et seq. 


The aspect of divine providence, and the extraordinary situ- 
ation of the world, at the present time, indicate that a solemn 
admonition, by the ministers of religion and other church offi- 
cers in General Assembly convened, has become our indis- 
pensable duty. When formidable innovations and convulsions 
in Europe threaten destruction to morals and religion; when 
scenes of devastation and bloodshed, unexampled in the his- 
tory of modern nations, have convulsed the world ; and when 
our own country is threatened with similar calamities, insen- 
sibility in us would be stupidity; silence would be criminal. 
The watchmen on Zion's walls are bound by their commission 
to sound a general alarm, at the approach of danger. We 
therefore desire to direct your awakened attention, towards 
that bursting stream, virhich threatens to sweep before it the 
religious principles, institutions, and morals of our people. 
We are filled with a deep concern and an awful dread, whilst 
we announce it as our real conviction, that the eternal God 
has a controversy with our nation, and is about to visit us in 
his sore displeasure. A solemn crisis has arrived, in which 
we are called to the most serious contemplation of the moral 
causes which have produced it, and the measures which it be- 
comes us to pursue.^ 

As to the " moral causes " referred to, the address pro- 
ceeds to define them as " a general defection from God and 
corruption of the public principles and morals," the evi- 
dences whereof are such as a general dereliction of relig- 
ious principle and practice, a departure from the faith and 
simple purity of manners for which the fathers were re- 
markable, a visible and prevailing impiety, contempt for the 
laws and institutions of religion, and " an abounding in- 
fidelity." " 

The same year, on May 31, the Congregational clergy of 

1 Acts and Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 
Church in the United States of America, May 17, 1798, pp. 11 et seq. 
' Ibid. 


Massachusetts, assembled in annual convention, " without 
a dissenting vote" adopted an address to their churches, 
wherein they expressed their deep sorrow and concern on 
account of " those atheistical, licentious and disorganizing 
principles which have been avowed and zealously propa- 
gated by the philosophers and politicians of France; which 
have produced the greatest crimes and miseries in that un- 
happy country, and like a mortal pestilence are diffusing 
their baneful influence even to distant nations." ^ A year 
later the same body of clergy, again assembled in their an- 
nual convention, formulated and later published an address 
similar in tone, but strongly emphasizing the American 
aspects of the case. The growing disbelief and contempt 
of the Gospel are loudly lamented; the lack of exemplary 
piety and morality even among the members of churches, 
and the dissipation, irreligion, and licentiousness prevalent 
among the youth of the day, are accounted to be of so much 
weight as to constitute a national apostasy. " The voice of 
God to us in these events," continues the address, " is em- 
phatically this : Come out of the infidel, antichristian world, 
my people ; that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye 
receive not of her plagues." ^ 

'The Massachusetts Mercury (Boston), June 19, 1798, contains the 
address in full. 

' This address may be found in the Independent Chronicle of July 
4, 1799, and the Nezvburyport Herald of June 28, 1799. A further com- 
ment, of more than average significance, on the unparalleled degener- 
acy of the times may be found in the sermon preached by the Reverend 
William Harris, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, before the annual con- 
vention of the Protestant Episcopal tChurch, held in Boston, May 28, 
1799. Cf. A Sermon delivered at Trinity Church, in Boston. . . By 
William Harris, rector of St. Michael's Church, iMarblehead. Boston, 
1799. A decade and a half later Lyman Beecher preached his famous 
sermon on " Building Waste Places." The impression which lingered 
in his mind concerning the period under survey is virorthy of con- 
sideration. After having discussed the unhappy condition of religious 
life in the churches of New England during the first half of the eigh- 


To a very considerable number of earnest lovers of re- 
ligion in New England and elsewhere throughout the 
nation, the century's sun seemed to be setting amid black 
and sullen clouds of the most ominous character. 

teenth century, he said : "A later cause of decline and desolation has 
been the insidious influence of infidel philosophy. The mystery of 
iniquity had in Europe been operating for a long time. The unclean 
spirits had commenced their mission to the kings of the earth to 
gather them together to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. 
But when that mighty convulsion [Foot-note: The French Revolution] 
took place, that a second-time burst open the bottomless pit, and spread 
darkness aJid dismay over Europe, every gale brought to our shores 
contagion and death. Thousands at once breathed the tainted air and 
felt the fever kindle in the brain. A paroxysm of moral madness and 
terrific innovation ensued. In the frenzy of perverted vision every foe 
appeared a friend, and every friend a foe. No maxims were deemed 
too wise to be abandoned, none too horrid to be adopted; no founda- 
tions too deep laid to be torn up, and no superstructure too venerable 
to be torn down, that another, such as in Europe they were building 
with bones and blood, might be built. . . The polluted page of in- 
fidelity everywhere met the eye while its sneers and blasphemies as- 
sailed the ear. . . The result was a brood of infidels, heretics, and 
profligates — a generation prepared to be carried about, as they have 
been, by every wind of doctrine, and to assail, as they have done, our 
most sacred institutions." Cf. Beecher, Autobiography, Correspond- 
ence, etc., vol. i, pp. 239, 240. 

Political Entanglements and Hysteria 

I. THE situation PRIOR TO 1 798 

Party history in New England, as elsewhere throughout 
the Union, began with the inauguration of the new govern- 
ment in 1789.^ Such differences of opinion concerning 
matters of public policy as had previously existed were con- 
fined to unorganized groups whose leaders depended chiefly 
on the devotion of their personal following to mould pop- 
ular opinion. But the setting up of the Federal government 
and the fixing of national standards brought to light issues 
which challenged fundamental conceptions and interests, 
and a definite rift in public sentiment was not long in ap- 
pearing. By 1793 the main line of political cleavage was 
plainly visible. The Federalists, who stood for the impor- 
tance of a strong central government, found themselves con- 
fronted with an organized opposition to which in time the 
terms Anti-Federalists, Republicans, and Democrats were 

In 1 793 the war between England and France came into 
American politics, providing issues for party controversy 
for years to come. The sympathies of the Federalists, who 

1 Robinson, Jeftersonian Democracy in New England, p. i ; 'Chan- 
ning, History of the United States, vol. iv, p. 150. 

' The term "Anti-Federalist " was born out of the struggle which de- 
veloped over the adoption of the national constitution. The term " Re- 
publican " was one of the by-products of the discussion which arose in 
this country, from 1792 on, over French revolutionary ideals. Cf. John- 
ston, American Political History, pt. i, p. 207. 

103] 103 


numbered in their ranks the conservative and aristocratic 
elements in the population, inclined strongly toward Eng- 
land ; whereas the sympathies of Republicans, who attracted 
to their standard the radicals of the country concerned in 
the democratization of government, were disposed with 
equal warmth toward France. 

The promulgation of the Neutrality Proclamation^ of 
President Washington, April 22, 1793, seemed to settle the 
question of foreign alliances before the matter had become 
acute. On the whole, the response which New England 
gave to the President's proclamation was gratifying. Mes- 
sages of cordial approval came pouring in from many quar- 
ters.^ The majority of the people rejoiced in the course of 
prudence and foresight which the national government had 
been led to pursue. 

Still New England was not wholly satisfied. The senti- 
ments of all her people had not been served. An opposition 
of respectable proportions developed. The columns of the 
public press carried numerous articles ^ voicing various de- 
grees of hostility to the President's cause of neutrality 
and affording ample evidence that instead of solidifying the 
sentiments of the people on the subject of foreign alliances, 
the proclamation had the effect of widening the breach be- 
tween the political forces of the country. 

This aspect of the case was much aggravated by two 
important circumstances, one of which developed simul- 
taneously with the publication of the proclamation of neu- 
trality, and the other came to light soon after. These two 

1 American State Papers: Foreign Relations, vol. i, p. 140. 

' The issues of the Columbian Centinel for 1793 abound in addresses 
of this character. 

^ Cf. for example, the issues of the Connecticut Courant for July 
29, Aug. 5 and 26, 1793, and of the Independent Chronicle for May 
7, 16 and 23, 1793. Cf. Channing, History of the United States, 
vol. iv, p. 128. 


circumstances were the coming of Genet and the rise of the 
Democratic Societies. 

In no part of the country was the news of the arrival of 
the French minister received with less suspicion than in 
New England.^ Republican newspapers were, of course, 
loud in their exclamations of satisfaction over the word that 
came out of the south concerning the arrival and subsequent 
activities of the amazing French diplomat, so young, so 
ardent, so eloquent, and so absurd. Editors of Federalist 
journals, while in no mood to be swept off their feet by the 
latest excitement of the hour, yet showed no disposition to 
cavil or express distrust. 

Such, however, were the exceptional performances of this 
altogether exceptional diplomat, who insisted on comport- 
ing himself more like a ruler of the people of this nation 
than an accredited representative to their government, that 
the day of revulsion and deep resentment could not long be 

The stir created by the activities of Genet, great as it 
was, soon was swallowed up in the excitement produced by 
the sudden emergence of a new factor in American politics ; 
vis., indigenous political organizations that were secret. Co- 
incident with the arrival of Genet, and with a view to capital- 

'The Connecticut Courant of May 13, 1793, contains the first announce- 
ments of Genet's arrival which that paper made. Subsequent issues 
are fairly well occupied with accounts of Genet's arrival in Phila- 
delphia, the unconfined expressions of cordiality and heated enthusiasm 
which he encountered there, the congratulatory address which the 
citizens of that place presented him, Genet's response, etc. In the 
issue of August 12 mention is made of the Frenchman's arrival in 
New York. Thus far not the slightest trace of a suspecting attitude 
of mind is discoverable. 

2 The issues of the Connecticut Courant for August 19 and 26, and 
November 11, 1793, contain articles that admirably illustrate the rising 
temper of the New England Federalists as they contemplated Genet's 
absurdities and improprieties. 


izing the state of public feeling that his arrival and reception 
brought to a head, there sprang up in various parts of the 
country a group of organizations devoted to the propagation 
of ultra-democratic ideals. These Democratic Societies, or 
Clubs, were destined tO' exert a degree of baneful influence 
upon political feeling out of all proportion to their actual 
number and weight/ Needless to say, the excited state of 
public feeling, together with the total unf amiliarity of Amer- 
ican citizens with political agencies of a secret character, 
were responsible for this result. The embarrassments under 
which the French cause in America momentarily suffered 
on account of reports concerning the multiplied atrocities of 
the Reign of Terror and the swelling tide of popular re- 
sentment because of the indiscretions of Minister Genet, 
might induce the judgment that the times were unpropitious 
for the development of organizations whose sympathy for 
the principles of the French Revolution was notorious.^ But 
there was another side to the situation. The heated public 
discussions provoked by Madison's Commercial Resolutions, 
Clarke's Non-Intercourse Resolution, and the appointment 
of John Jay as Minister Extraordinary to Great Britain, set 
free such a torrent of anti-British feeling that the spirit of 
republicanism lifted its head with renewed vigor and stim- 
ulated a public sentiment decidedly favorable to the rapid 
formation and spread of the new organizations. From the 
day that the first of these sinister Societies was established, 

- ^ Luetscher, in his Early Political Machinery in the United States, 
p. 33, asserts that not more than twenty-four separate organizations of 
this character were formed within the two years which followed their 
first appearance. These were fairly well distributed throughout the 
Union. One was in Maine, one in Massachusetts (Boston), three in 
Vermont, two in New York, one in New Jersey, iive in Pennsylvania, 
one in Delaware, one in Maryland, two in Virginia, one in North 
Carolina, four in South Carolina, and two in Kentucky. 

2 McMaster, A History of the People of the United States, vol. 
ii, pp. 17s et seq. 


and its statement of principles blazoned forth in a multitude 
of newspapers throughout the country/ the public mind 
found itself wrought upon by a new species of excitement, 
by suggestions of tricks and plots, by appeals to passion and 
unreasoning fear, all conspiring to inject into the national 
spirit an element of haunting suspicion from which it was 
not soon to be cleared. 

The fact that at least five of these Democratic Societies 
were located in New England strongly suggests the imme- 
diate concern which the people of that section were bound 
to have because of these unexpected and ominous secret 
political associations.^ The creation of the Boston Society 
became at once the occasion of virulent opposition and in- 
furiated comment. Organized in the late fall of 1 793 ^ un- 
der the innocent title, the Constitutional Club, the principles 
and alliances of the organization became quickly known, 
with the result that the already agitated waters of local 
party feeling were disturbed beyond all previous experience. 
Citizens whose sympathies were fully with the conduct of 
affairs under the Federalist regime were quick to believe that 
henceforth they might expect to be threatened, brow-beaten, 
and checkmated in a ruthless and scandalous fashion because 
of the activities of this pernicious Club.* They anticipated- 

1 Hazen, Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revo- 
hition, pp. 189 et seq. 

2 Robinson, Jeffersonian Democracy in New England, p. 10, for 
significant comments upon the effect of the establishment of the Demo- 
cratic Societies on general political interest. The vote was appreciably 
increased and elections were more hotly contested on account of the 
emergence of the Clubs. Cf. also New England Magazine, January, 
1890, p. 488. 

3 Morse, The Federalist Party in Massachusetts, p. 75 ; Wolcott 
Papers, vol. vii, S, letter of Jedediah Morse' to Oliver Wolcott. The 
Independent Chronicle of Jan. 16, 1794, contains the Rules and Regu- 
lations and the Declaration of this Society. 

* Massachusetts Mercury, Nov. 29, 1793. Cf. Works of Fisher 
Ames, vol. ii, pp. 146 et seq. 


an amount of secret and dastardly political interference on 
the part of the Club, because of which the lives of their 
public officials would be filled with distraction and the minds 
of decent men aspiring to public office would be thrown into 
a state of disinclination and repugnance. 

Nor in this did they prove to be false prophets. News- 
paper innuendoes, sharp and poisonous as deadly arrows, 
were let fly with abandon; town meetings were disturbed 
and the opponents of democracy and French republicanism 
put to rout; the public mind was so altered that Democrats 
who sought to deprive Federalists of their hold upon the 
" Boston Seat " in the legislature were completely success- 
ful in their efforts. In these and similar ways the citizens 
of Boston were given tangible proofs of how effective an 
instrument of political action such an organization as the 
Constitutional Club could be.^ 

' Jedediah Morse did not fail to observe the appearance of the Boston 
organization nor to divine its character and general scope of action. 
In a letter to Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, and Morse's 
intimate friend, a letter written close to the date of the organization 
of the Constitutional Club, Morse wrote optimistically but seriously 
of the situation : 

" Charkstown, Dec. i6th, 1793 
. . The body of the people repose great confidence in the Wisdom 
of the President — of Congress, & of the heads of Departments. May 
they have Wisdom to direct them ! The President's speech meets with 
much approbation — It is worthy of himself — We have some grmnhle- 
tonians among us — who, when the French are victorious, speak loud 
& saucy — ^but when they meet with a check — sing small. — They form a 
sort of political Thermometer, by whh we can pretty accurately deter- 
mine, what is, in their opinion, the state of French politics. — The French 
cause has no enemies here, — their conduct has many. — There are some 
virho undistinguishly [sic] & unboundedly approve both — & most bit- 
terly denounce, as Aristocrats, all who do not think as they do. — This 
party, whh is not numerous — nor as respectable as it is numerous — 
are about forming a Democratic Club — whh I think they call "the 
Massts. Constitutional Society "^ — I don't know their design, but sup- 
pose they consider themselves as guardians of the Rights of Man—& 


The address which President Washington delivered be- 
fore both houses of Congress, November 19, 1794, wherein 
he traced a causal connection between the Democratic Soci- 
eties and the Whiskey Rebellion, characterizing the former 
as " self-created societies " which had " assumed a tone of 
condemnation " of measures adopted by the government, 
being actuated by " a belief that, by a more formal concert " 
they would be able to defeat those measures,^ proved to be 
a mortal blow to these secret organizations, and in New i^ 
England, as elsewhere throughout the country, had conse- j 
quences beyond the disappearance of the Clubs. Eagerly \ 
and with unconcealed joy. Federalist editors and orators 
seized upon the President's denunciation and turned it to 
immediate political account.^ A flood of condemnation and , 
answering vituperation was instantly released. The cham- / 
pions of Federalism were at pains to secure publication of \ 
the discussions which took place in the national congress \ 
respecting the precise character of the response to be made 
to the President's address, with special reference to his con- 
demnation of the Democratic Qubs.* They were at equal 
pains, also, to lay hold of the President's pregnant phrase, 
" self-created societies," and turn it to account : that phrase 

overseers of the President, Congress, & you gentlemen in the several 
principal departments of State — to see that you don't infringe upon 
the Constitution. — They don't like, nor see through your borrowing so 
much money of Holland — They are very suspicious about all money 
matters .... 

Your friend, 

Jed* Morse." 

Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 5. 

^ Annals of Congress, vol. iv, p. 787. 

'^ The President's address -wzs printed in full in leading New England 
journals. Cf. for example, Columbian Centinel, Nov. 29, 1794; Inde- 
pendent Chronicle, Dec. i, 1794; Connecticut Courant, Dec. I, 1794. 

3 Columbian Centinel, Dec. 6, 10, 1794; Connecticut Courant, Dec. 
8, 24, 1794. 


should be regarded as a designation equally applicable to 
the odious Jacobin Clubs of France/ Henceforth the whole 
democratic faction might reasonably be expected to work 
under cover " tO' unhinge the whole order of government, 
and introduce confusion, so that union, the constitution, the 
laws, public order and private right would be all the sport 
of violence or chance." ^ 

Mortified and discomfited Republican editors made such 
response as they could. The members of the Clubs were 
declared to be independent citizens who were acting within 
theij rights in so banding together. They were " proceed- 
ing in the paths of patriotic virtue with a composure and 
dignity which become men engaged in such important and 
timely services " ; ^ whereas their opponents were men who 
hungered for the loaves and fishes of the government and 
who shared the secret fear that they would be discovered 
or have their plans deranged.* 

The continual harping of the Federalist press on the phrase 
" self-created societies " particularly touched the raw. Was 
not the Society of the Cincinnati self-created ? And are not 
many of the members of that organization war-worn sol- 
diers of the American Republic? In a state of society in 
which we see such veterans toiling for their daily susten- 
ance, while other men, enjoying the hard-earned property of 
the former, riot in all the luxuries of life, how can one but 
exclaim, O Tempora! O Mores! ° The national congress, 
moreover, might well be expected to be engaged in much 

1 Columbian Ceiitinel, Dec. 13, 1754. 

^ Ibid., Dec. 20, 1794. 

^Independent Chronicle. Sept iS, 1794. Cf. also issues of this paper 
for Sept I, 4, 8. and 15, Dec. 4, 8, and 15, 1794. 

■* Ibid., Aug. 25, 1794, 

= Ibid., Dec. 8, 1794. 


more serious and timely business than to be burdening its 
sessions with discussions respecting the affairs of private 

The hostile attitude that the Federalist clergy took toward 
the Democratic Societies gave special irritation to the editors 
of the Independent Chronicle. Because he ventured in his 
thanksgiving sermon of November 20 (1794) to denounce 
all Constitutional Societies, the rector of the Episcopal 
congregation in Boston was held up to ridicule in the 
columns of the Chronicle as a " ci-devant lawyer " and " a 
certain Episcopalian ' thumper of the pulpit drum,' " whose 
pastoral care many of his substantial members had already 
renounced because of his injection of political discussion into 
the sacred sphere of the pulpit ; while others had given evi- 
dence of their disposition to follow the example of the 
more courageous members of the flock, " if virulence is to 
take the place of religion." ^ But the Reverend David Os- 
good, Medford's " monk," on account of his more extended 
and violent treatment of the Democratic Societies in his 
thanksgiving day sermon,* gave much deeper offence. That 
he should have represented these organizations as controlled 
by the same principles as the incendiary French Jacobin 
Clubs, and as set to watch the Federal government and pljt 
its overthrow through the support of pernicious and invet- 
erate faction, was more than ardent democratic patriots 
could endure. " A Friend to the Clergy and an Enemy to 
Ecclesiastical Presumption," together with " A Friend of 
Decency and Free Inquiry," sought entrance to the willing 
columns of the Chronicle in order to express their contempt 
for " a Rev. gentleman " who could lend himself to the 

''^Independent Chronicle, Dec. 11, 1794. 
' Ibid., Nov. 27, 1794. 
» Cf. supra, pp. 89 et seq. 


peddling of such illiberal sentiments and could show him- 
self capable of acting in a manner unbecoming the character 
of a Christian and a gentleman, and also in order to draw- 
conclusions derogatory to his reputation as a scholar.^ The 
castigations of " Stentor " were not less caustic. The red- 
hot anathemas of the Reverend Parson Osgood, whining 
preacher of politics that he was, had no other effect than to 
singe and sear the reputation of their author. " On the 
Constitutional Society their influence has been as small as 
though they had been issued in the form of a Bull from 
the Chancery of the Pope." " 

Thus were protracted for a time the frantic efforts of 
Democratic editors and scribblers to repair the damage 
which " the clownish Bishop of Medford " ' and his clerical 
confederates were supposed to have effected.* But the main 
injury had by no means come from that quarter. Such was 
the veneration for the name and person of the great Wash- 
ington throughout New England that few men had the 
hardihood to launch their resentment and abuse against 
him; yet it was his hand, and none other, that wrote the 
word Ichabod across the brow of these secret political asso- 

1 C/. Independent Chronicle, Dec. 22, 25, and 29, 1794; Jan. 8 and 
IS, 1795- 
'Ibid., Jan. 12, 1795. 
'Ibid., Jan. 15, 1795. 

*A more detached and better balanced judgment of the importance 
of the part played by the clergy in the suppression of the Democratic 
Societies is that recorded by William Bentley : " When I consider the 
rash zeal with which the clergy have embarked in the controversy re- 
specting Constitution & Clubs, I could not help thinking of a place in 
this Town, called Curtis' folly. The good man attempting to descend 
a steep place, thought it best to take off one pair of his oxen & tackle 
them behind. But while the other cattle drove down hill, they drew 
the others down hill backwards & broke their necks. Had the French 
clergy continued with the people & meliorated their tempers they would 
have served them & the nobility." {Diary, vol. ii, p. 130.) 


ciations. From the day that his address reproaching them 
was made, their doom was sealed. That doom might tarry 
for a season, but it could not long be averted. The apolo- 
gists and defenders of these organizations which the presi- 
dential censure had made odious, might fiercely exert them- 
selves to show how innocent they were of the offences 
charged and how unimpaired in usefulness they remained 
after the thrust had been made. This was but whistling to 
keep up their courage. The prestige of the Societies had 
been effectually destroyed by the President's denunciation; 
in a surprisingly short time these ambitious and trouble-/ 
making organizations sank into desuetude and were lost to 

The deep impression they had made upon the public mind 
was, however, much less readily effaced. That impression 
resolved itself into a memory most unpleasant and disturb- 
ing. For us the significance of these organizations is found 
chiefly in the fact that, appearing at a time when the two 
great opposing political parties were developing, and having 
vehemently espoused the cause of France in a rabidly demo- 
cratic spirit, they consequently added enormously to the 
passion and the suspicion of the day. To the Federalists 
they were dangerous intruders, groups of unprincipled dem- 
agogues organized for unpatriotic purposes, working in the 
dark, ashamed to stoop at nothing in the way of duplicity 
and subterfuge, of deception and intrigue, if by any means 
the vicious designs of their hearts could be furthered. Thus 
they not only helped to make the strife of parties vitupera- 
tive and bitter ; in addition they made familiar to the thought 
of a great body of citizens in America the idea that the in- 
trigues of secret organizations must needs be reckoned with 
as one of the constant perils of the times. Henceforth it 
would be easier to fill the public mind with uneasiness and 
gloomy forebodings on account of the supposed presence of ; 


hidden hostile forces working beneath the surface of the 
nation's life. Should inexperienced and unsuspecting souls 
profess their incredulity, the appeal to the example of the 
Democratic Societies might be expected to go far toward 
dissolving all indifference and trusting unconcern.^ 

' That a certain depth of impression was made upon the mind of 
Jedediah Morse by the agitation that developed over these secret or- 
ganizations will appear from the following letter which he wrote to 
Oliver Wolcott, late in 1794. It is quite true that the letter shows no 
trace of apprehension as respects the future ; but the man's interest had 
been keenly solicited and the future was to have suggestions and ap- 
peals of its own. 
My dear Sir: " Charlestown, Dec. 17th, 1794 

I take the liberty to enclose you Mr. Osgood's Thanksgiving sermon, 
with whh I think you will be pleased. It will evince that the sentiments 
of the clergy this way (for so far as I am acquainted he (Mr. Osgood) 
speaks the sentiments of nine out of ten of the clergy) agree with those 
of the President, Senate, & house of Representatives, in respect to the 
Self-created Societies. The Thanksgiving sermons in Boston & its 
vicinity, with only two or three exceptions, all breathed the same 
spirit — though their manner was not so particular & pointed as Mr. 
Osgood's. His sermon is now the general topic of conversation — it 
has grievously offended the Jacobins. — Poor fellows ! they seem to be 
attacked on all sides. They must I think feel it to be a truth — that 
" there is no peace for the wicked." — They still make a noise — but it 
is like the groans of despair. 

I could wish, if you think it proper, that the sermon might, in a 
suitable way, be put into the hands of our most worthy President, 
with this remark accompanying it, that the clergy in this Commonwealth 
generally approve of the same sentiments. I wish it because it may 
possibly add to his satisfaction — & will certainly to our honor in 
his view . . . 

Your friend, 

Jedi* Morse. 
To Oliver Wolcott, Comptroller of the U. S. Treas?. 
Philadelphia, Pa." 

Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 9. The explicit proof that the mind of 
this man, whose personality is of large importance for the purpose in 
hand, received permanent impressions from the activities of the Demo- 
cratic Societies, on account of which he found it not difficult to con- 


To trace in detail the increasingly bitter party strife in 
New England would not only call for the canvassing of 
material already well known, but would lead us far afield 
from the special object of this investigation. Only the main 
features of the case need to be noted. 


The temporary check the Democrats suffered on account 
of the suppression of the secret political clubs was soon re- 
moved by the wave of anti-British sentiment that swept the 
country upon the publication of the treaty which John Jay 
negotiated between Great Britain and the United States, 
late in the autumn of 1794.^ 

The truth is, nothing less than a howl of rage went up 
from the throats of the people of the United States, and the 
voices of the men of New England were by no means lost 
in the chorus.^ Nothing that could have been said to inflame 

ceive of like secret combinations a few years later, is found in his 
references to the political clubs in his Fast Day sermon of May 9, 
1798, p. 24. Cf. also " Note F," p. 67, of his Thanksgiving Sermon of 
Nov. 29, 1798. 

' An interesting coincidence appears in this connection. The treaty 
was actually concluded on the very day that President Washington 
made his address dealing with the uprising in western Pennsylvania 
(November 19, 1794). It was not submitted to the Senate, however, 
until June 8 of the following year. On June 24, 1795, it was recom- 
mended by that body for ratification, with a special reservation as to the 
twelfth article. Cf. Macdonald, Documentary Source Book of Ameri- 
can History, p. 344. The promulgation of the treaty came later, as 
will appear. For comment on the popular resentment which the pub- 
lic announcement of the provisions of the treaty stirred up, cf. Mc- 
Master, A History of the People of the United States, vol. ii, pp. 212 
et seq. For contemporary newspaper reports of the situation, cf. 
the Independent Chronicle, July 9, 13, 16, 23 and 27, 1795. For per- 
tinent observations by Jedediah Morse regarding the apprehensions 
which the vehement popular disapproval of the treaty awakened in 
his mind, cf. Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 11. 

' William Bentley, whose Democratic leanings must not be overlooked, 
delivered himself in characteristic fashion: "The' public indignation is 
roused, & the papers begin to talk of lost Hberties. . The Secrecy 


the blind and passionate anger of the people was omitted. 
The United States, it was asserted, had been resolved back 
into the colonies of Great Britain/ The Senate had bar- 
gained away the blood-bought privileges of the people for 
less than the proverbial mess of pottage. It had signed the 
death-warrant of the country's trade and entailed beggary 
on its inhabitants and their posterity forever.^ The people's 
cause had been most perfidiously betrayed. The trading 
class, whose pecuniary interests would be jeopardized if 
England were to be left free to prey upon our commerce, 
especially if the way should remain open for the two coun- 
tries to drift into actual war, might show itself disposed to 
make a choice of the lesser of two evils and accept the 
treaty; but the great mass of the people were indignantly 
hostile, it must be added, to the point of unreason.^ 

The promulgation of the treaty by Washington, February 
29, 1796, as the law of the land, had the effect of bringing 
to a close a period of agitation which deeply affected the 
national life.* For one thing, the violence of party spirit 

under which this business has been covered has served to exasperate 
the public mind, upon the discovery. . . . The bells tolled on the 4 of 
July instead of ringing, & a mournful silence prevailed through the 
City. In this Town the men who hold securities under the govern- 
ment are sufficiently influential against the disquiets & angry expressions 
of more dependent people." {Diary, vol. ii, p. 146.) 

1 Independent Chronicle, July 16, 1795. 

2 Cf, reprint of the handbill circulated at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 
in the Independent Chronicle of July 20, 1795. 

8 Cf. extracts from the speech of Fisher Ames in the House of 
Representatives, April 28, 1796. Quoted by Channing, History of the 
United States, vol. iv, pp. 145 et seq. 

* As a matter of fact, as far as Congress was concerned, the dis- 
cussion over the treaty was continued for some time to come, because 
of the measures that were necessary to be taken to put the treaty into 
effect. Cf. Bassett, The Federalist System, p. 134. The country, how- 
ever, showed a disposition to accept the treaty as inevitable when the 
President's signature was finally affixed. 


had been so augmented that henceforth there were to be no 
Hmits to which men would not go in the expression of their 
antipathies and prejudices. Even the great Washington had 
not been able to escape the venom of the tongue of the 
partisan in the controversy which had raged over the treaty.^ 
A condition of the public mind which not only permitted 
but supported the burning in effigy of its public servants; 
which consented to brutal campaigns of newspaper calum- 
niation, so unrestrained and indecent that the reader looks 
back upon them with shame ; to the circulation of incendiary 
handbills and scurrilous pamphlets ; to participation in law- 
less gatherings in which riotous utterances of the most vio- 
lent character were freely made and disgraceful actions 
taken ^ — this could not possibly make for a wholesome dis- 
cipline of the passions of the people.* 

^ McMaster, A History of the People of the United States, vol. ii, 
pp. 248 et seq. Cf. Works of Fisher Ames, vol. i, p. 161. 
2 Morse, The Federalist Party in Massachusetts, pp. 153 et seq. 

2 Travelers from abroad who were in the country at this time re- 
marked the extreme virulence of public and private discussion. 
De La Rochefoucault-Liancourt, Travels through the United States of 
North America, vol. ii, pp. 231 et seq. Cf. ibid., pp. 75 et seq., 256, 359, 
381; vol. iii, pp. 23, 33 et seq., 74 et seq., 156, 163 et seq., 250, 274, 
366 et seq. Cf. Weld, Travels through the States of North America 
. . . during the years 1795, 1796, and I797, p. 62. Writing specifically 
of the excited state of the public mind in February, 1796, the latter 
observer of our national life said : " It is scarcely possible for a dozen 
Americans to sit together without quarrelling about politics, and the 
British treaty, which had just been ratified, now gave rise to a long 
and acrimonious debate. The farmers were of one opinion, and gabbled 
away for a long time; the lawyers and the judge were of another, 
and in turns they rose to answer their opponents with all the power of 
rhetoric they possessed. Neither party could say anything to change 
the sentiments of the other one; the noisy contest lasted till late at 
night, when getting heartily tired they withdrew, not to their respective 
chambers, but to the general one that held five or six beds, and in 
which they laid down in pairs. Here the conversation was again re- 
vived, and pursued with as much noise as below, till at last sleep closed 


For another thing, the spirit of devotion to the cause of 
France had been greatly refreshed and quickened by the 
agitation over the treaty. From the moment that informa- 
tion concerning the nature of the treaty began to circulate, 
the cry of " British faction " was taken up by the Demo- 
crats and used with telling effect. That the treaty was an 
infamous instrument arranged for no other purpose than to 
injure the French cause was generally believed.^ From 
begirming to end. Democrats could find nothing in the 
treaty which had not been directly inspired by hostility to 
France. Apart from the damage that would ensue to Amer- 
ican commerce, the treaty would work for the elevation of 
monarchical and the undoing of republican principles." 
Once again George the Third had become the master of the 
citizens of America, and thus the great accomplishments of 
the American Revolution had been made to count for 
nought. British gold had succeeded in effecting the betrayal 
of the republican cause in this country, and thus had worked 
itself into a strategic position where it could more easily 

their eyes, and happily their mouths at the same time. . . " {Ibid., 
pp. s8 et seq.) Such unfavorable reflections are not to be dismissed 
as representing prejudiced views of the case. A habit of intolerance 
toward political opponents and of all men who shared contrary opinions, 
had become one of the characteristics of the times. The agitation over 
the treaty went far toward fixing this habit. The Alien and Sedition 
Acts, which came a little later, were the result of an unrestrained free- 
dom of discussion scarcely more perceptible when they were passed in 
1798 than at the time of the heat produced by the treaty. 

1 Gibbs, Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and John 
Adams, vol. i, p. 226, Oliver Ellsworth's letter to Oliver Wolcott. 
Ellsworth reports that the "argument and explanation [of the treaty], 
that ' 'tis a damned thing made to plague the French,' has by repetition, 
lost its power." This could have been true only in a local sense. 

8 Cf. McMaster, A History of the People of the United States, vol. 
ii, pp. 227 et seq., for an ample discussion of this view of the situation. 


Strangle the life out of the spirit of republicanism in Europe, 
now so sorely beset in France/ 

One other by-product of the agitation that arose over the 
treaty has been dwelt upon at length in another connection, 
but it should be adverted to briefly here. It was inevitable 
that a discussion so vital, so heated, and so protracted as 
that of which we have just been taking account, should 
draw into it those guardians of morals and mentors of public 
spirit in New England, the Federalist clergy.^ The disturb- 
ance of the public mind over the treaty had been marked by 
two features full of grave import in the clerical view : vic- 
ious attacks upon the officers and measures of the existing 
government, and a reinvigorated crying-up of French polit- 
ical and religious notions. 

' That this fierce indictment of " British faction " and appeal to re- 
publican sentiment was by no means without practical effect, is shown 
in the result of the general election of 1796. The outcome of that 
election gave ground for great encouragement to the Democrats; for 
while their hero and idol, Thomas Jefferson, was not summoned 
to the presidency, none the less, to the deep chagrin of the Federalists, 
his opponent, John Adams, received his commission to succeed Wash- 
ington on the basis of a majority in the electoral college of only three 
votes. There could be no question that a spirit of confident and un- 
daunted republicanism was abroad in the land, and the good ship 
Federalism was destined to encounter foul weather. The state contest 
held in Massachusetts that same year was even more ominous. After 
a campaign marked by great vigor on the part of the Federalists, in 
an effort to rally popular support to their candidate. Increase Sumner, 
it developed that Samuel Adams, whose enemies had stressed the charge 
that he desired to enjoy a life tenure of the gubernatorial office, was 
reelected by a handsome Democratic majority of votes. Cf. 
Morse, The Federalist Party in Massachusetts, p. 161. Jedediah Morse 
showed himself to be a fairly astute prognosticator in connection with 
this election. He is found writing Wolcott, in October, 179S, to the 
effect that he is conscious of the fact that a severe storm is brewing. It 
is his conviction that the storm has been gathering for some time 
and is now about to burst forth. " Disorganizers " have been behind 
the opposition to the treaty. They have worked subterraneanly, trying 
to keep opposition alive. Cf. Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 14. 

2 Cf. supra, p. 93. 


The offices of government were all, or nearly all, in the 
hands of Federalists. This being the case, their occupants 
were doomed to be the chief targets of resentment and villi- 
fication by men who found such a measure of government as 
Jay's Treaty obnoxious in the extreme. But if officers of 
government were to be pilloried in the stocks of public slan- 
der and abuse, how then was the government itself to com- 
mand the respect and obedience of its citizens? The Fed- 
eralist clergy of New England saw the pathway of duty 
shining clear : they must hold up the hands of government 
at any hazard. Hence it happened that the outcry against 
"political preaching" grew rapidly in volume from 1795 

As for the renewed zeal of the Democrats in the interests 
of French revolutionary ideals, that found a special point of 
interest and concern for the Federalist clergy in the promi- 
nence which the rapid growth of republicanism secured for 
Thomas Jefferson. An ardent friend of the French Revo- 
lution, a lover of French philosophy, the enemy of religious 

^As early as the winter of 1795 William Bentley made the disgusted 
comment : " The Clergy are now the Tools of the Federalists." 
Diary, vol. ii, p. 129. Commencing with the participation of the clergy 
in the discussion over the treaty, (Democrat newspapers like the Inde- 
pendent Chronicle began to administer mild rebukes to the clergy for 
the unwisdom of their conduct in favoring the British. Cf. the issue 
of the Chronicle for July 20, 1795, for one of the earliest utterances of 
this sort. The spirit of resentment grew apace. Three years later 
this spirit of moderation had been fully discarded, and the clergy were 
being lashed unmercifully for their folly. For typical outbursts of this 
character, cf. the Independent Chronicle of Dec. 3, 1798. Jedediah 
Morse paid tribute to the political concern and service of the clergy 
in a letter to Wolcott, written Dec. 23, 1796: "Very few of ye Clergy 
of my acquaintance seem disposed to pray for the success of the 
French, since they have so insidiously and wickedly interferred in the 
management of our political affairs, & I apprehend the complexion of 
the thanksgiving sermons throughout N Engd. this year, are different 
from those of the last, in respect to this particular. I can speak of 
more than one with authority." {Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 20.) 


intolerance, in personal faith a deist — were not these suffi- 
cient to damn the man as an unbeliever and an atheist in the 
eyes of New England clergymen, to whom the faintest 
breath of rationalism was abhorrent and the very notion of 
toleration suspect? Accordingly the New England clergy 
launched a fierce attack upon him as the arch-apostle of the 
cause of irreligion and free-thought.^ In language carefully 
guarded, his name usually being omitted, Jefferson was 
pointed out as the leader of the hosts of infidelity whose 
object was the extermination of the institutions of religion 
and the inauguration of an era wherein every man should 
think and do that which was right in his own eyes.^ 

1 Morse, The Federalist Party in Massachusetts, p. 121. 

' Pamphleteers and newspaper writers were much more explicit. 
The Pretensions of Thomas leiferson to the Presidency Examined: 
and the Charges against John Adams Refuted, was one of the well 
known political pamphlets of the day. According to Gibbs, in his 
Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and John Adams, vol. 
h p. 379. it was prepared by Oliver Wolcott and William Smith, the 
latter of South Carolina. It marshalled the reasons why Jefferson 
should not be elected to the presidency. Among these " reasons " 
the charge of a close alliance between Jefferson and the men of the 
country who were notoriously interested in the cause of irreligion 
was boldly affirmed. Cf. page 36 et seq. This pamphlet was pub- 
Hshed in 1796. Later the charge of impiety was lodged against 
Jefferson with great frequency. Typical utterances of this nature may 
be found in the Library of American Literature, vol. iv, pp. 249-251 : 
"The Imported French Philosophy" (from "The Lay Preacher" of 
Joseph Dennie). This disquisition was much quoted in the news- 
papers of the day. From the position that the leaders of the Demo- 
crats were irreligious, it was easy for the Federalists to glide over to 
the position that the spirit of infidelity, believed to be spreading far 
and wide through the country, was consciously and deliberately backed 
by the restless and unscrupulous elements which, in the view of the 
Federalists, formed the opposition. The Connecticut Courant of Janu- 
uary 19, 1795, reflects this attitude. " The French ", it is asserted, " are 
mad in their pursuit of every phantom which disordered intellects can 
image. Having set themselves free from all human control, they would 
gladly scale the ramparts of heaven, and dethrone ALMIGHTY 



Very few of the events in our national affairs which link 
together the history of the last decade of the eighteenth 
century are significant for our purpose. Having sought to 
discover the chief occasions for the apprehension and dis- 
tress which weighed upon the minds of the citizens of New 
England, we may now proceed to focus attention exclusively 
upon the last three years of the century, within which de- 
veloped that special disturbance of the public mind with 
which we are primarily concerned. 

And first let it be said, we are approaching a period of as 
intense strain and nervous excitability as this nation in all 
its history has known. When Thomas Jefferson, in No- 
vember, 1 796, wrote Edward Rutledge of his deep personal 

JEHOVAH. Our own Democrats would do just so, if they dare." 
Cf. also the issue of the Courant for January 5, the same year, for 
a characterization of the program of the Democrats as " a crazy 
system of Anti-Christian politics." The offence given to the Demo- 
crats by such accusations was great. No man, perhaps, stated the 
stinging resentment which they felt better than Benjamin Franklin 
Bache in his Aurora of August 15, 1798: "No part of the perfidy of 
the faction, the insidious monarchical faction, which dishonors our 
country, and endangers our future peace, is so bare faced as their 
perpetual railing about a party acting in concert with France — a party 
of democrats and Jacobins — a party of disorganizers and atheists — a 
party inimical to our independence ! What is the plain intent of these 
impudent and ignorant railings? It is to impose upon the ignorant, 
to collect and concentre in our focus all the vice, pride, superstition, 
avarice, and ambition in the United States, in order to weigh down 
by the union of such a phalanx of iniquity, all that is virtuous and free 
in the nation." Abraham Bishop, whose repudiation of the Federalist 
charge that Jefferson was to be the High Priest of Infidelity was par- 
ticularly vehement, saw in this cry that an alliance had been made 
between the forces of democracy and the forces of infidelity, the 
evidences of a shameless hypocrisy that stripped its makers of all 
right to be styled Christians. The cry that infidelity abounded meant 
nothing more nor less than that new electioneering methods were being 
employed. Oration Delivered in Wallingford on the nth of March, 
1801 ... by Abraham Bishop, pp. 36, 37. 


satisfaction that he had escaped the presidency, he may have 
been influenced by unworthy but certainly not by imag- 
inary constraints. " The newspapers," so his letter runs, 
"will permit me to plant my corn, peas, &c., in hills or 
drills as I please . . . while our Eastern friend will be 
struggling with the storm which is gathering over us ; per- 
haps be shipwrecked in it. This is certainly not a moment 
to covet the helm." ^ Never has a defeated candidate for 
the presidency had more solid grounds for the justification 
of his fears, or shall we say, his hopes ? The severe strain 
of domestic strife was about to be enormously augmented 
by a series of untoward and alarming events in the field of 
foreign relations, certain of which must receive our partic- 
ular attention. 

The complete change in the character of the relations be- 
tween the United States and France is for us a matter of 
the first importance. The publication of the treaty nego- 
tiated between the United States and Great Britain by Jay 
produced definitive results as respects the attitude of France. 
With some reason that instrument was interpreted as inim- 
ical to the interests of the latter country, and the govern- 
ment and people of this nation were not long left in doubt of 
the fact.^ By the employment toward her former ally of a 

1 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. vii, pp. 93 et seq. In similar 
strain, Jefferson wrote Adams a day later, offering his best wishes for 
his administration, but with the thought of the impending " storm " 
still well fixed in his mind. Cf. ibid., pp. 95 et seq. Cf. Jefferson's letter 
to Dr. Benjamin Rush, ibid., pp. 113 et seq. 

^ The following clause in the treaty seemed to aflford ample protec- 
tion to the rights of France : " Nothing in this treaty contained shall, 
however, be construed or operate contrary to former and existing 
public treaties with other sovereigns or states." (United States Statutes 
at Large, vol. viii, p. 128: Article XXV of the treaty.) But France was 
unable to blind her eyes to the practical consideration that her Euro- 
pean enemy, Great Britain, and an American government, suspicious of 
if not positively antagonistic to French influence, were to be the inter- 
preters of the treaty. 


policy of coercion, of which two chief instruments were the 
destruction of American commerce upon the high seas and 
the overbearing and insolent conduct of diplomatic negotia- 
tions, France speedily addressed herself to the task of at- 
tempting to gain by pressure what she conceived she had lost 
in the way of prestige and material advantage. The result 
was, to the discomfiture and disgrace of the Democrats in 
particular and to the alarm of the country in general, that 
the United States was made aware of the fact that its gov- 
ernment was being driven into a corner from which, as far 
as a human mind could foresee, the only avenue of honor- 
able escape would be recourse to arms. 

The damage which American commerce sustained at the 
hands of French privateers is rendered appreciable when the 
following circumstances are taken into account. Within the 
year following the publication of the extraordinary decrees 
against the commerce of neutral nations, which the French 
Directory promulgated, beginning with June, 1796, some- 
thing over three hundred American vessels had been cap- 
tured. The crippling blow to American commerce was by 
no means the sole consideration in the case. In numerous 
instances the crews of captured vessels were treated in such 
an outrageous and brutal manner as to inflame and gall the 
American spirit beyond endurance. On account of abuses 
which American shipping and commerce had suffered pre- 
viously, by virtue of methods adopted by England and 
France to gain control of the seas, the strain imposed upon 
the nation had been severe; but now that a sweeping and 
utterly ruthless policy of commerce-destruction had been in- 
augurated by the French, forbearance was no longer pos- 
sible. In his maiden speech in the national congress, Har- 
rison Gray Otis, Massachusetts' gifted young representative, 
put the case with dramatic eloquence : 

If any man doubted of the pernicious measures of the French 


nation, and of the actual state of our commerce, let him inquire 
of the ruined and unfortunate merchant, harassed with prose- 
cutions on account of revenue, which he so long and patiently 
toiled to support. If any doubted of its effects upon agricul- 
ture, let him inquire of the farmer whose produce is falling and 
will be exposed to perish in his barns. Where . . . are your 
sailors ? Listen to the passing gale of the ocean, and you will 
hear their groans issuing from French prison-ships.^ 

It was not to be expected that a deeply injured people, to 
whose just sense of wrong and indignation the youthful 
Federalist orator had given such exact expression, could 
long be restrained from acts of reprisal and war. 

To the sense of injustice was added the burden of fear. 
The idea began to take possession of the minds of leaders 
of thought in America that France had darker and more 
terrible purposes in her councils than the blighting of Amer- 
ican commerce in retaliation for the treaty-alliance which 
had recently been concluded with Great Britain ; she sought 
war, war which would supply to her the opportunity to visit 
upon this nation the same overwhelming disasters which 
her armies had heaped upon the nations of Europe. The 
French, it was believed, were busy with schemes for employ- 
ing the world in their favor and were drunk with the vision 
of universal dominion.^ The true explanation of French 
violence and arrogance was to be sought in her aims at uni- 
versal empire.^ Her ravenous appetite could not be satis- 
fied ; she had resolved to make of the United States another 

' Annals of Congress, vol. vii, p. 103. 

^Gibbs, Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and John 
Adams, vol. i, p. 416, letter of Uriah Tracy to Oliver Wolcott. 

3 Works of Fisher Ames, vol. i, pp. 232 et seq., Ames' letter to 
Timothy Pickering. 


mouthful/ What reason had the citizens of this country 
to claim exemption from the general deluge ? Having fast- 
ened the chains of slavery upon nation after nation in 
Europe, the generals of France were now planning fresh 
triumphs; with our armies of the Mississippi and Ohio, of 
the Chesapeake and Delaware, her forces would contest the 
field on American soil.^ Had not her geographers already 
partitioned the country according to the new system of gov- 
ernment which would here be imposed ? ^ Did not her 
agents and spies fill the land, constantly exerting themselves 
to thwart the purposes of the American government and to 
render fruitless its policies of administration ? * 

Such fears may not be brushed aside as silly and chimer- 
ical, in view of the steady stream of information which came 
across the Atlantic, announcing the downfall of one nation 
after another as the result of French intrigue and the 
prowess of French arms." Besides, there was probably not 

1 Cf. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. vii, pp. 127 et seq., letter 
of Jefferson to Thomas Pinckney. Even Jefferson's steadfast faith and 
loyalty to France was momentarily put to rout. 

■2 Cf. Morison, The Life arid Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, vol. i, p. 
69, letter of Otis to Gen. William Heath. This letter was published in 
full in the Massachusetts Mercury of April 17, 1798. 

3 Morison, The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, vol. i, 
p. 69. 

* The Works of John Adams, vol. viii, pp. 615, 620. President 
Adams was fully persuaded that French notions of domination " com- 
prehended all America, both north and south ". (Ibid.) Cf. also Annals 
of Congress, vol. vii, p. 1147, speech of Otis on Foreign Intercourse; 
American Historical Association Report for 1896, p. 807, Higginson's 
letter to Pickering. 

^ One of the pamphlets of the day, frequently referred to, much quoted 
in the newspapers, and evidently much read, bore the horrific title: 
The Cannibals' Progress; or the Dreadful Horrors of French In- 
vasion, as displayed by the Republican Officers and Soldiers, in their 
Perfidy, rapacity, ferociousness &■ brutality, exercised towards the In- 
nocent inhabitants of Germany. Translated from the German, by An- 

a solitary Federalist leader in the United States who did not 

thony Aufrer(e), Esq. . . . The Connecticut Courant, in announcing a 
new edition of this work as just off the press, offered the following 
description of its character : " This work contains a circumstantial ac- 
count of the excesses committed by the French Army in -Suabia. At 
the present moment, when our country is in danger of being overrun by 
the same nation, our people ought to be prepared for those things, 
which they must expect, in case such an event should happen. The 
pamphlet should be owned by every man, and read in every family. 
They will there find, from ' an authentic source, that the consequences 
of being conquered by France, or even subjected to their government, 
are more dreadful than the heart of man can conceive. Murder, rob- 
bery, burning of towns, and the violation of female chastity, in forms 
too dreadful to relate, in instances too numerous to be counted, are 
among them. Five thousand copies of this work were sold in Phila- 
delphia in a few days, and another edition of ten thousand is now in 
the press in that city." Cf. the issue of the Courant for July 2, 1798. 
Another book of horrors which deserves mention in this connection, 
although it came to public attention in America a little later, was the 
following: The History of the Destruction of the Helvetic Union and 
Liberty. By J. Mallet ,Du Pan. This work was first printed in Eng- 
land in 1798, and the following 'March was reprinted in Boston. A sen- 
tence or two taken from the author's preface will convey a fair notion 
of its nature : " In the 'Helvetic History, every Government may read 
its own destiny, and learn its duty. If there be yet one that flatters 
itself that its existence is reconcilable with that of the French Republic, 
let it study this dreadful monument of their friendship. Here every 
man may see how much weight treaties, alliances, benefactions, rights 
of neutrality, and even submission itself, retain in the scales of that 
Directory, who hunt justice from the earth, and whose sanguinary 
rapacity seeks plunder and spreads ruin alike on the Nile as on the 
Rhine, in 'Republican Congresses as well as in the heart of Monarchies." 
Like The Cannibals' Progress, this work was much quoted in the news- 
papers and caught the sympathetic eye of many clergymen, Jedediah 
Morse among the number. July 29, 1799, 'Chauncey Goodrich, of Hart- 
ford, Connecticut, wrote Oliver Wolcott to the effect that " the facts 
. . in Du Pan, Robinson, Barruel, have got into every farm house; 
they wont go out, till the stories of the Indian tomahawk & war dances 
around their prisoners do." (^Wolcott Papers, vol. v, 77.) Nathaniel 
Ames did not think highly of the veracity of The Cannibals' Progress, 
yet he paid tribute to its influence in the following fashion : " July 31, 
1798. Judge Metcalf with his cockade on came down to see Gen. Wash- 
ington expecting to get a Commission to fight the French & infatuated 


believe that French ministers and agents were in secret 
league with influential representatives of the Democratic 

The bullying treatment which the French Directory ac- 
corded the ministers and envoys of this nation added much 
to the heat as well as to the dark suspicions which character- 
ized public feeling in America. A government which boldly 
assumed to treat with impudent indifference and coldness 
one accredited minister of the United States, while at the 
same time it lavished the most extravagant expressions of 
friendship upon another whose disappointed executive had 
reluctantly summoned him home/ was obviously pursuing 
a course so high-handed and insolent as to stir the last dor- 
mant impulse of national honor. But the hot flame of public 
indignation which burst forth in this country when it be- 
came known that its Minister Plenipotentiary, Charles 
Cotesworth Pinckney, after months of painful embarrass- 
ment and hazard, marked by neglect, evasions, and threats 
of arrest, was returning home, defeated in purpose, was as 
nothing to the lava-like stream of infuriated anger which 
swept through the land when it became known how treach- 
erously the three envoys of the national government, 
Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry, had been used. 

By common consent the publication of the X.Y.Z. de- 
spatches, early in April, 1798, put the top sheaf upon a long 
series of intolerable actions which this nation had suffered 
at the hands of the government of France. Like a flash it 
was made clear that not mere whimsicality and offended 

at the slanders of the Progress of the Cannibals that the French skin 
Americans to make boots for their Army, &c." (JJedham Historical 
Register, vol. ix : Diary of Ames, p. 24.) 

1 Channing, History of the United States, vol. iv, pp. 176 et seq., 
gives a brief but entertaining account of the political jockeying on 
the part of our government which lay back of Monroe's recall and 
the despatch of Pinckney to France. 


hauteur were at the bottom of the unsatisfactory dealings 
which our ministers had had with the French : we had sent 
our ambassadors to negotiate with men who knew how to 
add bribery to threats. Though the government of France 
might seek to save its face on the pretext that the mysterious 
French emissaries had acted without proper warrant, yet 
back of the negotiators was Talleyrand, and back of Talley- 
rand the Directory. The revulsion of feeling in the United 
States was complete. All innocent delusions were shattered ; 
all veils torn away. What the French government desired 
in its negotiations was not political sympathy, not commer- 
cial cooperation, not a fraternal alliance between two sister 
republics in order that the flame of liberty might not perish 
from the earth ; what it desired was money — money for the 
pockets of the Directory and its tools, " for the purpose of 
making the customary distribution in diplomatic affairs," 
money for the public treasury that the Directory might find 
itself in a position to give a " softening turn " to certain 
irritating statements of which President Adams had de- 
livered himself in his message to the Fifth Congress.^ 

The passion for war with France became the one passion 
of the hour. Only abandoned men, men whose desire for 
'' disorganization " was the one yearning of their hearts, 
were unresponsive to the spirit of militant patriotism which 
swayed the people's will : ^ such at least was the confident 

^ Gibbs, Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and J ohm 
Adams, vol. ii, pp. 15 et seq. Cf. McMaster, History of the People of 
the United States, vol. ii, pp. 368 et seq. 

^Cf. Works of Fisher Ames, vol. i, p. 225, letter of Ames to H. G. 
Otis. Ames' comment on the discomfiture of the Democrats was char- 
acteristically vigorous : " The late communications [i. e., the X. Y. Z. 
despatches] have only smothered their rage; it is now a coal-pit, lately 
it was an open fire. Thacher would say, the effect of the despatches is 
only like a sermon in hell to awaken conscience in those whose day of 
probation is over, to sharpen pangs which cannot be soothed by hope." 


and boastful view of Federalist leaders, and for once they 
were able to gauge accurately the depth and power of the 
currents of popular sympathy. That hour had passed when 
men could say, as Jefferson had but a brief day before 
President Adams turned over to Congress the astounding 
despatches, " The scales of peace & war are very nearly in 
equilibrio." ^ The heavy weight of the despatches had sent 
the bowl of war to the bottom with a resounding thud. 

So it seemed at the moment; and yet, though there has 
seldom been an hour in our national history when all purely 
factional counsels were more effectually hushed and when 
the war fever mounted higher, an amazing period of uncer- 
tainty and of conflicting impulses and passions immediately 
set in. 

Addresses and memorials to the President came pouring 
in, pledging to the government the full confidence of its 
citizens and unswerving loyalty and support. Volunteer 
military companies sprang into existence in every quarter 
over night. War vessels were purchased, or their construc- 
tion provided for, by public subscription and presented to 
the government. The white cockade, new emblem of an 
aroused public spirit, generally appeared. The fierce slogan, 
" Millions for defence, but not one cent for tribute!" and 
the tuneful strains of " Hail Columbia " and " Adams and 
Liberty" went ringing through the land. Within a brief 
period of little more than three months, Congress passed no 
less than twenty acts for the strengthening of the national 

' The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. vii, p. 228, Jefferson's letter 
to Edmund Pendleton. 

2 The elation of Jedediah Morse over the turn affairs seemed to 
be taking was great. Under date of May 21, 1798, he wrote Wolcott, 
dilating on " the wonderful and happy change in the public mind. Op- 
position is shrinking into its proper insignificance, stripped of the sup- 
port of its deluded honest friends. I now feel it is an honour to be an 
American." {Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 23.) 


This was one side of the matter; there was another, as 
events soon made clear. The President, it appeared, was 
not at one with the more ardent leaders in his own political 
camp, whose resolution for war was unbounded; he ex- 
hibited an attitude of indifference to the whole notion of 
open war with France that became increasingly manifest as 
the weeks went by. The President would temporize; he 
would try to avoid the crisis by sending new commissioners 
to France to reestablish friendly relations. Against such a 
policy many of his advisers protested furiously. Besides, 
the problem of supplying the army with leaders who should 
serve with Washington had resulted in an unseemly struggle 
as to whether this or that patriot should stand next to the 
great hero of Mount Vernon. The President's policy of 
conciliation took on the appearance of shameless procras- 
tination ; ^ the imbroglios of the Federalist leaders aroused 

' Jedediah Morse was far from comfortable over the unwillingness of 
the President to proceed with vigor in handling affairs with France. 
An ill-concealed vein of impatience is discoverable in the following 
letter which he wrote to Wolcott, under date of July 13, 1798 : " He 
[Washington] will unite all honest men among us. It gladdens the 
hearts of some at least, to my knowledge, of our deluded, warm demo- 
crats. They say, ' Washington is a good man — an American, & we will 
rally round his standard ! ' . . . The rising & unexpected spread of the 
American spirit has dispelled all gloom from my mind, respecting our 
country. I rejoyce at the crisis, because I believe, the issue will be, the 
extinction of French inUuence among us, & if this can be effected, 
treasure & even blood, will not be spilt in vain. — The government is 
strengthening every day, by the confidence and assertions of the people. 
— We are waiting with almost impatience to have war declared agt^ 
France, that we may distinguish more decidedly between friends & foes 
among ourselves. I believe there is energy enough in government to 
silence, & if necessary exterminate its obstinate & dangerous enemies." 
{Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 27.) Eleven months later 'Morse expressed 
to Wolcott his grave fears on account of the disposition of the national 
government to reciprocate the "pacific overtures of the French govt." 
{Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 24.) It is not French arms, but their 
"principles" which he holds in dread. {Cf. ibid.) Back of the 
fire-eating spirit of this New England clergyman was a genuine moral 
and religious concern. 


public suspicion, and invited to the garnished hearth the 
spirits of confusion and clamor. 

Those evil spirits, however, which most effectively co- 
operated to make the last state worse than the first came as 
the result of the extraordinarily stupid and blundering 
measures which the Federalists adopted to curb the activities 
of resident aliens and the abuse of free speech. Beginning 
with the Naturalization Act of June 18, 1798, there fol- 
lowed in quick succession three other repressive measures, 
the Act Concerning Aliens of June 25, the Act Respecting 
Alien Enemies of July 6, and the Act for the Punishment 
of Certain Crimes against the United States (the Sedition 
Act) of July 14.^ The purpose of these famous acts has 

1 The texts of these various acts may be found in United States Statutes 
at Large, vol. i, pp. 566-569, 570-572, 577-57^, 596-597- The Naturalization 
Act extended from five to nineteen years the period of residence neces- 
sary for aliens who wished to become naturalized ; that is to say, four- 
teen years of residence, to be followed by an additional five years of 
residence after the declaration of intention to become a citizen had 
been filed. It is obvious that this measure was intended to defeat the 
process by which the Democrats had been absorbing the foreign vote. 
The Act Concerning Aliens empowered the President " to order all 
such aliens as he should judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the 
United States, or should have reasonable groimds to suspect were con- 
cerned in any treasonable or secret machinations against the govern- 
ment thereof, to depart out of the territory of the United States within 
such a time as should be expressed in such order." Penalties in the 
form of heavy imprisonment and the withdrawal of the opportunity to 
become citizens were attached. The Act Respecting Alien Enemies 
gave the president power when the country was in a state of war to 
cause the subjects of the nation at war with the United States "to be 
apprehended, restrained, secured, and removed as alien enemies." The 
Sedition Act, not only in point of time but in sinister significance as 
well, stood at the apex of this body of legislation. It provided that 
fines and imprisonments were to be imposed upon men who were found 
guilty of unlawfully combining or conspiring for opposition to measures 
of government, or for impeding the operation of any law in the United 
States, or for intimidating an officer in the performance of his duty. 
The penalty was to be a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and 


already been indicated ; the impulse out of which they grew 
is not so easily determined. Was it that the heads of the 
national government really anticipated danger on account of 
the presence of a multitude of foreigners and the unlicensed 
freedom of action and public utterance which thus far had 
been allowed ? ^ Was it that the memory of more than four 
years of biting satire and vicious calumny which the oppo- 
sition had visited upon the heads of Federalist leaders had 
filled the latter with longings for revenge? Or was it that, 
conscious of their undisputed control of national affairs 
and carried away by the sense of their power, the Federalist 
leaders proposed to show how strong and effective a cen- 
tralized government could become? No single alternative, 
doubtless, suggests the full truth. No matter; the effect 

imprisonment not exceeding five years. Penalties were also provided for 
publishing false, scandalous, and malicious writings against the gov- 

' At the time the country numbered among its population a very large 
number of aliens. French refugees from the West Indies, to the num- 
ber of perhaps 25,000, were here. Cf. Report of the American Histor- 
ical Association for 1912: " The Enforcement of the Alien and Sedi- 
tion Laws," by F. M. Anderson, p. 116. England, also, had her quota 
of citizens here, not a few of whom were fugitives from justice, and 
some of whom, like William Cobbett and J. Thomson Callender (r/. 
McMaster, History of the People of the United States, vol. ii, p. 338), 
either drew the fire of the advocates of French principles or busied 
themselves in the affairs of government on this side of the ocean. 
The amount of scurrilous abuse, aimed at the heads of govern- 
ment, which issued from the public press had become appalling. No 
innuendoes were too indelicate, no personalities too coarse, no slanders 
too malicious, no epithets too vile to be of service in the general cam- 
paign of villification. The prostitution of the pubUc press in America 
has never been more abject than it was at the close of the eighteenth 
and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. (Duniway, The 
Development of Freedom of the Press in Massachusetts, pp. 143, 144.) 
Unfortunately, Federalists compromised their position and scandalized 
their cause by writing as scurrilous and libelous articles as their ene- 
mies; but the agencies of administration were in their hands, and, as 
the Democrats charged, their offences were not noticed. 


which these measures produced is, with us, the main point, 
and to that we turn. 

No milder word than maddening will adequately describe 
the effect of these measures. All the old wounds were 
opened, all the old antipathies aggravated. Editors and 
pamphleteers, statesmen and demagogues, tore at each 
others' throats as they had never done before and have 
never done since. A veritable " reign of terror " filled the 
land.^ Insult and violence were everywhere. Mobs tore 
down liberty-poles which Federalist hands had erected and 
put in their place other poles bearing symbols of defiance to 
"British faction" and tyrannous Federal government; or the 
action was reversed, with Federalist mobs tearing down the 
standards of the opposition. White cockades were snatched 
from the hats of men who supported the government, and 
once more the black cockade blossomed forth. Toasts were 
drunk over tavern bars and on public occasions to the con- 
fusion of the British Eagle or the Gallic Cock ; to the health 
and prosperity of the Federal government or to the downfall 
of tyrants; to the alien and sedition laws, with the fervent 
wish that " like the sword of Eden [they] may point every- 
where to guard our country against intrigue from without 
and faction from within " ; ^ or to " freedom of speech, 
trial by jury, and liberty of the press," * according as the 
adherents of one faction or the other were assembled for 
patriotic or convivial purposes. Raucous and ribald out- 
breaks of party feeling burst out in the theaters to the in- 
terruption of performances, the confusion of performers, 

"■ Morison, The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, vol. i, pp. 
106 et seq. Morison's treatment of this tempestuous period is char- 
acterized by keen discrimination and fine balance. It is on« of the most 
satisfying as well as one of the most vivid accounts of the situation 
to be found. 

- Connecticut Courant, July 8, 1799. 

° Independent Chronicle, Dec. 3, 1798. 


and the breaking of not a few heads. Such was the lighter 
and more ludicrous aspect of affairs. 

But beneath this effervescence honest and whole-hearted 
antagonism to the odious legislation surged in countless 
breasts. In the power of an anger which scorned all friv- 
olous and tawdry action, men declared their deep and irre- 
vocable opposition to such measures of government. That 
respectable and well-meaning aliens, from lack either of in- 
clination or opportunity to become citizens, should be ex- 
pelled from the country, or remaining here should become 
the targets of suspicion and the victims of political oppres- 
sion ; that opposition to government must henceforth wear a 
muzzle, with a heavy bludgeon meanwhile held menacingly 
over its head; that the damage done by favored partisan 
scribblers was not to be repaired by answering opponents; 
and all this under the guise of laws which, whatever their 
intention, operated to the enormous disadvantage of one of 
the twO' great political bodies of the day — these were things 
not to be endured by men to whom liberty was the very 
breath of life. 

The actual amount of personal injury inflicted by the 
operation of the alien and sedition laws was not enormous, 
though certainly not negligible. A considerable body of 
aliens fled the country, either during the period when the 
alien laws were pending or immediately after they went 
into effect.^ Probably something more than a score of in- 
dividuals were arrested under the sedition law, less than 
half of whom were compelled to stand trial.^ But once 

1 Report of the American Historical Association for 1912: " The 
Enforcement of the Alien and Sedition Laws," by F. M. Anderson, pp. 
IIS et seq. Cf. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. vii, pp. 256 
et seq., 262, letters of Monroe to Jefferson. 

^ Anderson, who appears to have made a painstaking examination of 
the available records, states his conclusions thus : " I have made a 
special effort to discover every possible instance and to avoid confus- 


again popular judgment was based upon qualitative rather 
than quantitative grounds. The popular sense of personal 
liberty had been outraged by these acts/ The Federalist 
leaders by their precipitate and inconsiderate action had 
very much overshot the mark and were about to bring their 
house tumbling down about their heads. As for the oppo- 
sition, those of its leaders whose highest political interest 
was party advantage lived to bless the day when, blinded by 
hysteria or lust of power, the Federalist party made the 
alien and sedition acts the law of the land. Six months 
after these unsavory measures were passed, discerning 
Democrats were able to rejoice that this body of legislation 
was operating as a powerful sedative to quiet the inflamma- 
tion which that " God-send " to the Federalists, the X.Y.Z. 
despatches, had incited.^ By their own blimder in party 
strategy the Federalists had alienated the sympathies of the 
people and given to the ground-swell of republican principles 
a tremendous impetus which carried them to a speedy 

Once again our special interest must be allowed to center 

ing Federal and State cases. There appears to have been about 24 or 
25 persons arrested. At least ig, and probably several more, were in- 
dicted. Only 10, or possibly 11, cases came to trial. In 10 the accused 
were pronounced guilty. The eleventh case may have been an acquittal, 
but the report of it is entirely unconfirmed." (Report of the American 
Historical Association for 1912, p. 120. Cf. Bassett, The Federalist 
System, p. 264.) An important phase of the judicial aspects of the situa- 
tion, as respects the forming of public opinion, was the widespread 
publication in the newspapers of the charges made to grand juries by 
Federal judges who exerted themselves to defend the alien and sedition 
laws, and whose utterances received caustic criticism at the hands of 
Democrat writers. 

1 Duniway, The Development of Freedom of the Press in Massa- 
chusetts, pp. 14s, 146. 

2 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. vii, pp. 3-31 ef seq., 
Jefferson's letter to Elbridge Gerry. 


upon a secondary element in the situation, i. e., the over- 
wrought tension of nerves because of which the most fan- 
tastic and unHkely of happenings seemed wholly within the 
circle of reason and probability. The circumstances which 
have just been considered were, in the main, upon the sur- 
face. As such they were capable of being evaluated and 
weighed. But who was to say that they were not attended 
by subterranean influences and designs? Affairs every- 
where, be it remembered, were moving with incredible 
swiftness. In every quarter the beleaguered forces of con- 
servatism found themselves surrounded and hemmed in by 
radical elements which manifested a spirit of militancy and 
a resolute will to conquer. With the European situation to 
lend strong emphasis to the suggestion of sinister tendencies 
and secret combinations, it cannot be thought extraordinary 
that here in America, where traditional opinions and insti- 
tutions were as certainly being undermined, the conviction 
should take root that beneath all this commotion over for- 
eign and domestic policies secret forces must be at work, 
perfecting organizations, promoting conspiracies, and ready 
at any hour to leap forth into the light to throttle govern- 
ment and order. 

There is, of course, no desire to make it appear that ap- 
prehensions concerning hidden designs and movements were 
generally shared by the citizens of the United States. There 
was then, as there has always been, a very large body of 
citizens whose faith in the stability and high destiny of the 
nation made them immune to such fears; calm and philo- 
sophic souls who were equally unmoved by the rant of the 
demagogue or the distracted mood of the self-deceived 
alarmist. Their sympathy for and their faith in the demo- 
cratic tendencies of the age inhibited every impulse tO' de- 
spair. But there were also other men, as has been the case 
in every deeply agitated generation, who were fully per- 


suaded that they were able to catch deeper tones than their 
neighbors, to whom the gift had been given to read the 
signs of the times more accurately than their fellows. For 
them the conclusion was inescapable that no postulate which 
did not leave room for secret combinations was adequate to 
explain the peculiar cast of events in the United States at 
the end of the eighteenth century. To dismiss the case of 
such men with the casual judgment that they were tempera- 
mentally susceptible to such impressions, is to rule out of 
account the extraordinary character of the age to which 
they belonged. Apropos of this observation, the two fol- 
lowing items are deserving of notice. 

Some time previous to the celebration of the national 
fast of 1798, three anonymous letters were flung into 
President Adams' house, announcing a plot to bum the 
city of Philadelphia on the day of the approaching fast. 
Convinced that the matter was of moment, the President 
made the contents of the letters publicly known. As a re- 
sult, many people of the city packed their most valuable be- 
longings and prepared to make a quick departure in the event 
that the threats made should come to fulfilment.^ Was 
this a mere " artifice to agitate the popular mind," the work 
of " war men " who were restless and impatient for an im- 
mediate declaration of hostilities against France? Quite 
possibly. Such, at least, was the private opinion of Thomas 
Jefferson.^ But who was to know? The true lay of the 
land was not easily to be discovered in the midst of an age 
when, in the language of a contemporary, " all the passions 
of the human heart are in a ferment, and every rational 

^ The report of this episode may be found in the Connecticut Courant 
of May 14, 1798. Cf. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. vii, pp. 
252 et seq., Jefferson's letter to Madison. 

' Ibid. 


being from the throne to the cottage is agitated by the pic- 
turesque circumstances of the day." ^ 

Alexander Hamilton left among his manuscripts certain 
comments which he had made upon the character and im- 
port of the French Revolution. Before we turn to consider 
the European Illuminati and the outcry against its alleged 
presence in the United States, we may, by perusing this 
document, throw a little added light upon the gnawings of 
anxiety and fear which were felt at the time by very rational 
gentlemen in America. 

Facts, numerous and unequivocal, demonstrate that the pres- 
ent AERA is among the most extraordinary which have oc- 
curred in the history of human affairs. Opinions, for a long 
time, have been gradually gaining ground, which threaten the 
foundations of religion, morality and society. An attack was 
first made upon the Christian revelation, for which natural re- 
ligion was offered as a substitute. The Gospel was to be dis- 
carded as a gross imposture, but the being and attributes of 
God, the obligations of piety, even the doctrine of a future 
state of rewards and punishments, were to be retained and 

In proportion as success has appeared to attend the plan, 
a bolder project has been unfolded. The very existence of a 
Deity has been questioned and in some instances denied. The 
duty of piety has been ridiculed, the perishable nature of 
man asserted, and his hopes bounded to the short span of his 
earthly state. DEATH has been proclaimed an ETERNAL 
SLEEP ; " the dogma of the immortality of the soul a cheat, in- 

^ An Answer to Alexander Hamilton's Letter, Concerning the Public 
Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., President of the United 
States, New York, 1800, p. 3. In this connection it may be noted that 
as ardent and hopeful a Democrat as Nathaniel Ames seriously con- 
templated the outbreak of civil war in the United .States as the result 
of the tense party situation near the end of 1798. Cf. Dedham Histor- 
ical Register, Diary of Ames, vol. ix, p. 63. 


vented to torment the living for the benefit of the dead." Irre- 
ligion, no longer confined to the closets of conceited sophists, 
nor to the haunts of wrealthy riot, has more or less displayed 
its hideous front among all classes. . . . 

A league has at length been cemented between the apostles 
and disciples of irreligion and anarchy. Religion and govern- 
ment have both been stigmatized as abuses ; as unwarrantable 
restraints upon the freedom of man ; as causes of the corrup- 
tion of his nature, intrinsically good ; as sources of an artificial 
and false morality which tyrannically robs him of the enjoy- 
ments for which his passions fit him, and as clogs upon his 
progress to the perfection for which he is destined. . . . 

The practical development of this pernicious system has been 
seen in France. It has served as an engine to subvert all her 
ancient institutions, civil and religious, with all the checks 
that served to mitigate the rigor of authority; it has hurried 
her headlong through a rapid succession of dreadful revolu- 
tions, which have laid waste property, made havoc among the 
arts, overthrown cities, desolated provinces, unpeopled regions, 
crimsoned her soil with blood, and deluged it in crime, poverty, 
and wretchedness ; and all this as yet for no better purpose than 
to erect on the ruins of former things a despotism unlimited 
and uncontrolled; leaving to a deluded, an abused, a plun- 
dered, a scourged, and an oppressed people, not even the 
shadow of liberty to console them for a long train of substan- 
tial misfortunes, or bitter suffering. 

This horrid system seemed awhile to threaten the subversion 
of civilized society and the introduction of general disorder 
among mankind. And though the frightful evils which have 
been its first and only fruits have given a check to its progress, 
it is to be feared that the poison has spread too widely and 
penetrated too deeply to be as yet eradicated. Its activity has 
indeed been suspended, but the elements remain, concocting 
for new eruptions as occasion shall permit. It is greatly to 
be apprehended that mankind is not near the end of the mis- 
fortunes which it is calculated to produce, and that it still 


portends a long train of convulsion, revolution, carnage, de- 
vastation, and misery. 

Symptoms of the too great prevalence of this system in 
the United States are alarmingly visible. It was by its in- 
fluence that efforts were made to embark this country in a 
common cause with France in the early period of the present 
war; to induce our government to sanction and promote her 
odious principles and views with the blood and treasure of 
our citizens. It is by its influence that every succeeding re- 
volution has been approved or excused; all the horrors that 
have been committed justified or extenuated; that even the 
last usurpation, which contradicts all the ostensible principles 
of the Revolution, has been regarded with complacency, and 
the despotic constitution engendered by it slyly held up as a 
model not unworthy of our imitation. 

In the progress of this system, impiety and infidelity have 
advanced with gigantic strides. Prodigious crimes hereto- 
fore unknown among us are seen ^ 

' The Works of Alexander Hamilton, vol. vii, pp. 374-377: Fragment 
on the French Revolution. The Fragment is undated. It could not 
have been written later than 1804, of course. There are some slight 
traces that it was compiled at the time the excitement over the Illu- 
minati was prevalent in America. 


The European Order of the Illuminati 

I. the rise and the disappearance of the order 

That great European movement in the direction of the 
secularization of thought to which the expressive term, the 
Aufkldrung or Enlightenment, has been applied, and which 
reached its apogee in the latter half of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, encountered a stubborn opposition in southern Ger- 
many in the electorate of Bavaria. The pivot of Bavarian 
politics, particularly from the beginning of the sixteenth 
century, had been the alliance which had been effected be- 
tween the clerical party and the civil power. The counter 
reformation which followed in the wake of the Lutheran 
movement was able to claim the field in Bavaria without the 
necessity of a combat. 

In the third quarter of the eighteenth century Bavaria 
was a land where sacerdotalism reigned supreme. Religious 
houses flourished in abundance; the number of priests and 
nuns was incredibly large.^ So easy were the ways of life 
in that fertile country that a lack of seriousness and inten- 
sity of feeling among the masses flung open the door for 

1 Forestier, Les Illumines de Baviere et la Franc-Magonnerie alle- 
martde, p. 103. This author, upon whose recent painstaking re- 
searches much reliance is placed in this chapter, relates that one trav- 
eler who was in Bavaria at this time, found 28,000 churches and 
chapels, with pious foundations representing a total value of 60,000,000 
florins. Munich, a city of 40,000 inhabitants, had no less than 17 con- 
vents. When a papal bull, issued in 1798, authorized the elector to dis- 
pose of the seventh part of the goods of the clergy, the Bavarian gov- 
ernment, in executing the pope's directions, deducted 35,000,000 florins, 
and it was remarked that this amount did not equal the sum which had 
been agreed upon. Cf. ibid., pp. 103 et seq. 

142 [142 


superstitious practices which made the popular religion little 
better than gross fetichism. So-called "miraculous" images 
were commonly paraded through the streets; innumerable 
statues and sacred relics were exposed to the gaze of crowds 
of the faithful ; the patronage of the saints was assiduously- 
solicited. Among the educated there was a widespread con- 
viction that the piety of the people was ignorant and that 
their trustful attitude made them the prey of many im- 

The degree of power to which the representatives of the 
Society of Jesus had been able to attain in Bavaria was all 
but absolute.^ Members of the order were the confessors 
and preceptors of the electors; hence they had a direct in- 
fluence upon the policies of government. The censorship of 
religion had fallen into their eager hands, to the extent that 
some of the parishes even were compelled to recognize 
their authority and power. To exterminate all Protestant 
influence and to render the Catholic establishment com- 
plete, they had taken possession of the instruments of public 
education. It was by Jesuits that the majority of the 
Bavarian colleges were founded, and by them they were 
controlled. By them also the secondary schools of the 
country were conducted.^ 

The prevailing type of education in Bavaria had little 
more to commend it than the popular type of religion." 

1 Forestier, op. cit., p. 108 : "Dans aucun pays du monde, si Ton excepte le 
Paraguay, les fils de Loyola n'avaient obtenu un'e victoire plus complete, 
ni conquis une autorite plus grande." Cf. Mounier, De I'influence 
attribuee aux Philosophes aux franc-magons et aux illumines sur la 
revolution de France, p. 189. 

2 Ibid., pp. 109, 100. Duhr, B., Geschichte der Jesuiten in den 
Landern deutscher Zunge im 16. Jahrhundert, Freiburg, 1907, discusses 
the earlier development. The work of F. J. Lipowsky, Geschichte der 
Jesuiten in Baiern, Miinchen, 1816, 2 vols., is antiquated and is little 
more than a chronicle. 

3 Engel, Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens, p. 29. 


The pedagogical aim of the Jesuits was the development of 
the memory with scant regard for other faculties of the 
mind. To learn the catechism, or in the case of advanced 
pupils to receive unquestioningly the dogmatic instruction 
offered by clerical pedagogues, was the ideal honored 
throughout the Bavarian schools. Books which bore the 
slightest taint of Protestant influence, or which in any other 
way gave evidence of a liberalizing spirit, were ruthlessly 

Such were the conditions of life under which the great 
mass of the people lived. There was, however, a relatively 
small group of cultivated people in Bavaria who, despite 
the clerical oppression and bigotry from which they suf- 
fered, had contrived to share in the liberalizing spirit of the 
larger world. The censorship exerted by the Jesuits had 
found no adequate means to guard against the broadening 
influences of travel or of contact with travelers from other 
lands, or even to prevent the introduction of all contraband 
journals and books. The effect of the former had been to 
create a humiliating and galling sense of inferiority on the 
part of liberal-minded Bavarians," while the latter had 
served to stimulate a thirst for the new knowledge which 
the rationalism of the age made available. To this small 
group of discontented and ambitious spirits the ancient 
faith had ceased to be satisfactory, and the burden of cler- 
icalism had become insufferable. 

The University of Ingolstadt, established in 1472, was 
destined to become a rallying point for these radical tenden- 
cies. In the middle of the sixteenth century the Jesuits had 

^ The suppression of the Jesuits by Pope Clement XIV, in 1773, did 
not greatly diminish the influence and power of the order in Bavaria. 
Refusing to accept defeat, the new intrigues to which they gave them- 
selves inspired in their enemies a new sense of their cohesion, with 
the result that they appeared even more formidable than before their 

2 Forestier, op. cit., pp. lOS et seq. 


gained control of its faculties of philosophy and theology, 
and for two centuries thereafter the university had been 
counted upon as the chief fortress of clericalism in Bava- 
ria.^ By the middle of the eighteenth century the deaden- 
ing effect of the rigorous censorship exerted by the Jesuits 
had produced its full fruitage at Ingolstadt. The university 
had fallen into a state of profound decadence. - 

With the accession of Maximilian Joseph ^ as elector, in 
1745, the breath of a new life soon stirred within its walls. 
For the position of curator of the university the elector 
named a well-known and resolute radical of the day, Baron 
Johann Adam Ickstatt, and charged him with the respon- 
sibility of reorganizing the institution upon a more liberal 
basis.* Measures were adopted promptly by the latter look- 
ing to the restoration of the prestige of the university 
through the modernization of its life. The ban was lifted 
from books whose admission to the library had long been 
prohibited, chairs of public law and political economy were 
established, and recruits to the faculty were sought in other 
universities. ° 

^ Forestier, op. cit., p. 19. 

''Ibid., p. 18. Cf. Engel, op. cit., pp. 19, 28, 29. 

' In the person of Maximilian Joseph, Bavaria fouod an elector whose 
earlier devotion to liberal policies gave promise of fundamental reforms. 
Agriculture and manufactures were encouraged; judicial reforms were 
undertaken; the despotism of the clergy was resisted. The founding 
■of the Academy of Science at Munich, in 1759, represented a definite 
response to the spirit of the Aufkl'drung. However, the elector was 
Jiot at all minded to break with the Catholic faith. All efforts to in- 
troduce Protestant ideas into the country were vigorously opposed by 
the government. In the end the elector's program of reform mis- 
t:arried. At the time of his death, in 1777 (the date given by Forestier, 
p. 106, is incorrect; cf. Allgemeine Deutsche Biographic, vol. xxi, 
p. 30; also Brockhaus, Konversations-Lexikon, vol. xi, p. 683.), the 
absolute power of the clergy remained unshattered. 

* Forestier, op. cit., p. 107. 

' As a result of this effort, George Weishaupt, father of Adam, came 
to the University of Ingolstadt as professor of imperial institutions 
and criminal law. 


It was, of course, not to be expected that the clerical 
party, whose power in the university, as has been intimated, 
was particularly well entrenched in the faculties of phil- 
osophy and theology, would retire from the field without a 
struggle/ A sharp contest arose over the introduction of 
non-Catholic books, into which the elector himself was 
drawn, and which in addition to the substantial victory that 
Ickstatt won, had the further effect of aligning the two 
parties in the university squarely against each other. ^ It 
was only a few years after this episode, when the Jesuits 
were still chafing under the sharp setback which their poli- 
cies had suffered, that the name of Adam Weishaupt first 
appeared (in 1772) on the roll of the faculty of the uni- 
versity as professor extraordinary of law. 

Weishaupt (born February 6, 1748; died November 18, 
1830) entered upon his professional career at Ingolstadt 
after an educational experience which had made him a pas- 
sionate enemy of clericalism. His father having died when 
the son was only seven, his godfather, none other than 
Baron Ickstatt, compelled doubtless by the necessities of the 
case, had turned the early training of the boy over to the 
Jesuits. The cramming process through which he thus 
passed was destined to prove unusually baneful in his case ^ 
on account of certain influences which penetrated his life 
from another quarter. Accorded free range in the private 
library of his godfather, the boy's questioning spirit 
was deeply impressed by the brilliant though pretentious 
works of the French " philosophers " with which the shelves 
were plentifully stocked.* Here was food for the fires of 
imagination just beginning to flame up in this unsophisti- 

1 Engel, op. cit., pp. 19 ef seq. 

2 Forestier, op. cit., pp. 19 et seq. Cf. Engel, op. cit., pp. 20 et seq. 
^ Ibid., pp. 22 et seq. 

* Forestier, op. cit., pp. 16 et seq. 


cated and pedantic youth. Here, also, were ready solvents 
for the doubts with which his experience with Jesuit teach- 
ers had filled his mind. The enthusiasm of the most sus- 
ceptible of neophytes seized him : he would make prose- 
lytes, he would deliver others from their bondage to out- 
worn beliefs, he would make it his duty tO' rescue men from 
the errors into which the race had long been plunged.^ His 
object in life thus early determined, he threw himself with 
great zeal into the study of law, economics, politics, history, 
and philosophy. He devoured every book which chanced 
to fall into his hands.^ 

After graduating from the University of Ingolstadt in 
1768, he served for four years in the capacity of tutor and 
catechist until his elevation tO' the rank of assistant instructor 
took place. The favor he was permitted to enjoy as the 
protege of Ickstatt ^ brought him more rapid advancement 
than that to which his native abilities entitled him. In 1773 
he was called to the chair of canon law, which for a period 
of ninety years had been held by representatives of the 
Jesuits.* Two years later, when he was but twenty-seven 
years of age, he was made dean of the faculty of law. 
Such a rapid improvement in his professional standing 
proved far from salutary. The young man's vanity was 
immensely flattered and his reforming resolution unduly 
encouraged. His sense of personal worth as the leader of 
the liberal cause in the university quite outran his merit.' 

1 Forestier, op. cit., p. 18. 

2 Ibid. 

' Ickstatt withdrew from direct participation in the affairs of the 
University of Ingolstadt in 1765, but he continued to exercise a con- 
trolling influence over the policies of the institution for some time 
to come. The son of one of his former pupils, Lori, a man of liberal 
notions, was later chosen co-director of the institution, and with him 
Weishaupt made common cause in his campaign against the Jesuits. 

* Forestier, op. cit., p. 21. Cf. Engel, op. cit., p. 33. 

' No clearer illustration of Weishaupt's lack of nobility is needed 


Meantime the Jesuits, observing with deep resentment 
Weishaupt's meteoric rise/ together with a growing dispo- 
sition on his part to voice unrestrained criticism of eccle- 
siastical intolerance and bigotry, entered into intrigues,' to 
checkmate his influence and undermine his position.^ The 
payment of his salary was protested and the notion that he 
was a dangerous fi-ee-thinker industriously disseminated.^ 
On his part, Weishaupt did not scruple to furnish Ickstatt's 
successor, Lori, with secret reports calculated to put the 
Jesuit professors in the university in an unfavorable light.* 
A disagreeable squabble resulted, marked on the one hand 
by clerical jealousy and pettiness and on the other by Weis- 
haupt's imprudence of speech '^ and indifference to consid- 
erations of professional honor. 

The effect of this unseemly strife upon Weishaupt was 
to establish firmly in his mind the conviction that as the 
university's most influential leader against the cause of 
ecclesiastical obscurantism he was being made a martyr for 
free speech." In no way disposed to be sacrificed to the 
animosity of enemies whose power he greatly over- 
estimated, he arrived at the conclusion that a general offen- 
sive against the clerical party ought immediately to be 

than his treatment of his protector and patron, Ickstatt. Owing to a 
marriage which he had contracted in 1773 against the wishes of Ickstatt, 
a decided chill came over the relations between the two men. All con- 
siderations of gratitude were carelessly tossed aside by 'Weishaupt. 
Later, in utter disregard of the anticlericalism of his benefactor, Weis- 
haupt entered into an intrigue with the Jesuit professor Stadler, to 
obtain a coveted ecclesiastical position for the latter. Ickstatt, hearing 
of this, renounced Weishaupt as an ingrate. Forestier, op. cit., pp. 22 
et seq. 

1 Engel, op. cit., p. 31. 

2 Forestier, op. cit., p. 21. 

' Ibid. Cf. Engel, op. cit., p. 32. 
* Ibid., p. 22. 
= Ibid., p. 25. 
8 Ibid. 


undertaken. A secret association was needed which, grow- 
ing more and more powerful through the increase of its 
members and their progress in enlightenment, should be 
able to outwit the manoeuvres of the enemies of reason 
not only in Ingolstadt but throughout the world. Only 
by a secret coalition of the friends of liberal thought 
and progress could the forces of superstition and error be 
overwhelmed. Over the scheme of such an association con- 
secrated to the cause of truth and reason, the self-esteem of 
Weishaupt kindled anew as he contemplated none other 
than himself at its head.^ 

1 The motives which led Weishaupt to consider the formation of 
a secret organization of the general character indicated were not all 
of a kind. In part they were creditable, in part discreditable. That 
he had a genuine interest in the cause of liberalism and progress, born 
largely of the personal discomfort and injury he had experienced at 
the hands of intolerance and bigotry, there can be no honest doubt. 
But a thirst for power was also a fundamental element in his nature. 
The despotic character of the order which he attempted to build up 
is in itself a sufficient proof of this. Besides, the cast of his personal 
affairs at the time the organization was launched smacks loudly of 
the man's over-weening vanity and yearning for personal conquest. 
His break with Ickstatt had been followed by a breach between him 
and Lori on account of the constant recriminations in which Weishaupt 
engaged against his enemies in the university. The secret alliance he 
had formed with the Jesuit Stadler likewise soon dissolved. His com- 
plaints because of alleged infringements of his freedom of speech as a 
teacher were vehement. His interference in university affairs outside 
the proper sphere of his authority was frequent and involved him in 
numerous acrimonious verbal battles. (Engel seeks to relieve Weis- 
haupt of part of the odium of these charges by shifting somewhat of 
the burden to other shoulders. (,Cf. Geschichte des Illuminaten- 
Ordens, pp. 29-54.) His partiality is, however, sufficiently accounted 
for by the fact that at the time his work was published, he was the 
head of the revived Order of the Illuminati. Cf. op. cit., p. 467; cf. 
Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. iii: article, " lUuminaten"). 
Yet none of these experiences brought home to the mind of Weishaupt 
that he was to blame. As to the matter of motive, Forestier's com- 
ment is much to the point: "Ainsi le hardi confesseur de la verite se 
trouvait seul a lutter visiere levee contre la tourbe des bigots. Une 


His imagination having taken heat from his reflections 
upon the attractive power of the Eleusinian mysteries and 
the influence exerted by the secret cult of the Pythagoreans, 
it was first in Weishaupt's thought to seek in the Masonic 
institutions of the day the opportunity he coveted for the 
propagation of his views. From this original intention, 
however, he was soon diverted, in part because of the diffi- 
culty he experienced in commanding sufficient funds to gain 
admission to a lodge of Masons, in part because his study 
of such Masonic books as came into his hands persuaded 
him that the " mysteries " of Freemasonry were too puerile 
and too readily accessible to the general public to make them 
worth, while/ He deemed it necessary, therefore, to launch 
out on independent lines. He would form a model secret 
organization, comprising " schools of wisdom," concealed 
from the gaze of the world behind walls of seclusion and 
mystery, wherein those truths which the folly and egotism 
of the priests banned from the public chairs of education 
might be taught with perfect freedom to susceptible youths.^ 

volonte moins bien tremp6e aurait laisse sombrer dans une resignation 
inerte ou dans la manie de la persecution ce modeste professeur d'une 
Universite sans prestige, perdu dans un coin de la Baviere, mal paye, 
mal vu de la majorite de ses collegues, mal note par le Curateur, 
surveille, soupgonne par tous ceux que scandalisait le radicalisme de 
ses opinions. Mais I'ame de Weishaupt disposait de deux puissants 
ressorts: la soif du proselytisme et la volonte de puissance." {Op. cit., 
pp. 25 et seq.) The view adopted by Kluckhohn is not essentially dif- 
ferent: " Rachsucht, Ehrgeiz, Herrschbegier mischten sich in ihm mit 
dem .Drange, grosses zu wirken und ein Woltater der Menschheit zu 
werden." (Herzog-Plitt, Real-Encyklopadie. fur protestantische Theo- 
logie und Kirche, 2. Aufl., vol. vi, Leipzig, 1880 : article, " Illuminaten," 
p. 699.) 

1 Forestier, op. cit., p. 28. Weishaupt readily detected the disparate 
character of current Freemasonry, and for a brief time he was en- 
thusiastic over the project of developing a rarified type of Masonry to 
which only men of superior talents should be admitted. For the 
reasons given, the idea was abandoned. 

^ Ibid., p. 29. 


By the constitution of an order whose chief function should 
be that of teaching, an instrument would be at hand for 
attaining the goal of human progress, the perfection of 
morals and the felicity of the race/ \ 

On May i, 1776, the new organization was founded, \ 
under the name of the Order of the Illuminati,^ with a \ 
membership of five all told. The extremely modest begin- ' 
ning of the order in respect to its original membership was 
more than matched by the confusion which existed in Weis- 
haupt's mind as to the precise form which the organization 
had best take. Only three elementary grades, or ranks, had 
been worked out by him, and these only in a crude and 
bungling fashion, when the enterprise was launched. A 
feverish regard for action had full possession of the foun- 
der of the order ; the working-out of his hazy ideas of organ- 
ization might wait for quieter days.^ 

1 Forestier, op. cit., p. 75. The teaching function of the order is well set 
out by Forestier in the following : "Faire de I'homme actuel, reste sauvage 
et ferocement egoiste sous le vernis dfune civilisation apparante, un 
etre veritablement sociable, c'est-a-dire respectueux des droits de ses 
semblables et amene dans ses rapports avec eux, lenseigner a ses mem- 
bres 'I'art de realiser le bien sans trouver d'opposition, de corriger leurs 
defauts, d'ecarter les obstacles, d'attaquer le mal a la racine, de faire 
en un mot ce que jusqu'a present I'education, I'enseignement de la 
morale, les lois civiles et la religion meme ont ete incapables dfaccom- 
' plir,' leur apprendre ' a soumettre leurs desirs au controle de la raison,' 
tel est done en derniere analyse ce que I'Ordre considere comme sa fin 
supreme. iSociete d'enseignement par les occupations qu'il impose a 
ses adeptes, il est essentiellement, par le but qu'il se propose, un institut 
d'education sociale." (Op. cit., p. 78.) 

^ It was Weishaupt's original purpose to style the new order the 
" Perfectibilists ", but this he later renounced as too bizarre and lack- 
ing in the element of mystery. 

3 Forestier, op. cit., p. 46 : "Au moment ou Weishaupt avait f onde son 
Ordre, I'organisation de tout le Systeme etait a peine ebauchee dans 
son esprit. Quand il s'etait subitement decide a jeter les bases de son 
edifice, il avait hativement redige des Statuts provisiores, se promettant 
de les reraanier et d'arreter definitivement dans le silence du cabinet le plan 
general." Cf. Engel, op. cit., p. 90 : " Die ersten Ordensstatuten, welche 


Out of the voluminous and rambling expositions which 
Weishaupt at various times made of the three primary 
grades, viz., Novice, Minerval, and Illuminated Minerval, 
the following brief descriptions are extracted. 

To the grade of Novice youths of promise were to be 
admitted, particularly those who were rich, eager to learn, 
virtuous, and docile, though firm and persevering/ Such 
were to be enrolled only after their imaginations and desires 
had been artfully aroused by suggestions concerning the ad- 
vantages to be derived from secret associations among like- 
minded men, the superiority of the social state over that of 
nature, the dependence of all governments upon the consent 
of the governed, and the delight of knowing and directing 
men.^ Once enrolled, the instruction of each Novice was to 
be in the hands of his enroller, who kept well hidden from 
his pupil the identity of the rest of his superiors. Such 
statutes of the order as he was permitted to read impressed 
upon the mind of the Novice that the particular ends sought 
in his novitiate were tO' ameliorate and perfect his moral 
character, expand his principles of humanity and sociability, 
and solicit his interest in the laudable objects of thwarting 
the schemes of evil men, assisting oppressed virtue, and 
helping men of merit to find suitable places in the world.* 
Having had impressed upon him the necessity of maintain- 
ing inviolable secrecy respecting the affairs of the order, 

einen Einblick geben iiber das, was Weishaupt woUte, bestanden nur 
kurze Zeit; sie waren recht durftig und unklar." It was not until 
Baron Knigge came to his assistance, four years later, that Weishaupt 
was able to rescue the organization of the society from the mire of 
puerility into which his impractical nature had plunged it. 

■■ Engel, op. cit., pp. 56 et seq. The recruiting of women, Jews, pagans, 
monks, and members of other secret organizations was forbidden. 
Weishaupt preferred the enrollment of men who were between the 
ages of 18 and 30. 

^ Cj\ Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens, pp. 49, 50, 56. 

^ Ihid., p. 26. 


the further duties of subordinating his egoistic views and in- 
terests and of according respectful and complete obedience to 
his superiors were next enjoined. An important part of the 
responsibility of the Novice consisted in the drawing-up of 
a detailed report (for the archives of the order), containing 
complete information concerning his family and his per- 
sonal career, covering such remote items as the titles of the 
books he possessed, the names of his personal enemies and 
the occasion of their enmity, his own strong and weak points 
of character, the dominant passions of his parents, the 
names of their parents and intimates, etc.^ Monthly reports 
were also required, covering the benefits the recruit had re- 
ceived from and the services he had rendered to the order. ^ 
For the building-up of the order the Novice must undertake 
his share in the work of recruitment, his personal advance- 
ment to the higher grades being conditioned upon the success 
of such efforts.* To those whom he enrolled he became in 
turn a superior ; and thus after a novitiate presumably two 
years in length," the way was open for his promotion to the 
next higher grade. 

The ceremony of initiation through which the Novice 
passed into the grade Minerval was expected to disabuse 
the mind of the candidate of any lingering suspicion that 
the order had as its supreme object the subjugation of the 
rich and powerful, or the overthrow of civil and ecclesias- 
tical government.^ It also pledged the candidate to be use- 

1 Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens, pp. 61-65. 

^ Ibid., p. 63. From time to time the Novice was required to 
submit to his superiors notations he had made upon interesting portions 
of books which he had read, in order that his instruction might be 
properly directed. Cf. ibid., pp. 62, 65. In the pursuit of the art or 
science that he had chosen as his principal occupation, he was ex- 
pected to keep in close touch with his enroller. 

3 Ibid., p. 31- 

* Forestier, op. cit., p. 61. 

° Ibid., pp. 61-64. 


f ul to humanity ; to maintain a silence eternal, a fidelity in- 
violable, and an obedience implicit with respect to all the 
superiors and rules of the order; and to sacrifice all per- 
sonal interests to those of the society.^ Admitted to the 
rank of Minerval, the candidate received into his hands the 
printed statutes of the order, wherein he learned that in 
addition to the duties he had performed as novice, his obli- 
gations had been extended with special reference to his 
studies.^ These were to be more highly specialized, and the 
fruits of his researches from time to time turned over to 
the superiors. In the prosecution of difficult labors of this 
character, he was to be free to call to his assistance other 
Minervals in his district.^ He might also count upon the 
assistance of his superiors in the form of letters of recom- 
mendation in case he undertook travels in the pursuit of 
his studies; and should he form the resolve to publish his 
material, the order pledged itself to protect him against the 
rapacity of booksellers who might show themselves dis- 
posed to overcharge him for the works he wished to con- 
sult, as well as to render assistance in attracting the atten- 
tion of the public to his work.* 

1 Forestier, op. cit., p. 64. 

2 Ibid., p. 65. 3 ji,ici_ 

* Ibid., p. 66. It was in the mind of Weishaupt to make a sort 
of free university out of this grade. He himself declared : " In der 
nachsten Klasse [i. e., Minervals], dachte ich also eine Art von gelehrter 
Academie zu crrichten : in solcher wird gearbeitet, an Karakteren, 
historischen, und lebenden, Studium der Alten, Beobachtungsgeist, 
Abhandlungen, Preisfragen, und in specie mache ich darinnen jeden 
zum Spion des andern und aller. Darauf werden die Fahigen zu den 
Mysterien herausgenommen, die in dieser Klasse etliche Grundsatze 
und Grunderfordernisse zum menschlichen gliickseligen Leben sind." 
(Quoted by Engel from Weishaupt's correspondence with Zwack, p. 
76.) The grade Minerval is therefore to be regarded as designed to 
supply the opportunity par excellence for imparting the revolutionary 
ideas of which the founder of the order boasted. Under the direction 
of their superiors the Minervals were to continue the study of the 


In the assemblies of this grade the Minerval for the first 
time came into contact with the members of the order. In 
other words, his Hfe within the society actually began.^ 
The thirst for the sense of secret association with men of 
like interests and aims, which the member's long novitiate 
had developed, began to find its satisfaction.^ Ordinary 
Minervals and " illuminated " Minervals mingled together 
in these assemblies ^ and mutually devoted their delibera- 
tions to the affairs of the order. 

To the grade Illuminated Minerval were admitted those 
Minervals who in the judgment of their superiors were 
worthy of advancement. Elaborate initiatory ceremonies 
fixed in the candidate's mind the notions that the progres- 
sive purification of his life was to be expected as he worked 
his way upward in the order,* and that the mastery of the 

humanities which they began as Novices ; they were to study the works 
of the ancients, to prepare dissertations upon subjects in those fields 
to which their special talents were suited, etc., — in a word, to show 
themselves worthy of membership in an academy of savants. Cf. Einige 
Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens, p. 216. Cf. Forestier, op. cit., 
p. 74. Weishaupt entertained extremely ambitious notions of a system 
of special libraries under the control of the order, and in which the 
literary and scientific productions of the order should be assembled 
and preserved. Cf. Der aichte Illuminat, p. 46. 

1 Forestier, op. cit., p. 66. 

^ The fantastic element in Weishaupt's mind is well illustrated at this 
point. In view of the fact that he particularly sought the recruitment 
of youths between the ages of 15 and 20 years {cf. Einige Original- 
schriften des Illuminaten Ordens, p. 261), it is difficult to see the pos- 
sibility of sustained satisfaction in such associations. We shall see^ 
later that Baron Knigge substantially modified the character of the 
organization in this particular. . Weishaupt did not scruple to employ 
outright deception with reference to the reputed age and power of the 
order to enhance in the minds of the members the sense of the value 
of these secret associations. Forestier, op. cit., p. 82. _^, 

3 Ibid., p. 66. 

'^Der Hchte Illuminat, p. 94. The notion that the supreme heads 
of the order, whose identity of course was concealed from the mem- 
bers, were individuals of exceptional purity, was kept before the minds 
of the "illuminated" Minervals as an added incentive. 


art of directing men was to be his special pursuit as long as 
he remained in the new grade. To accomplish the latter, 
i. e., to become an expert psychologist and director of men's 
consciences, he must observe and study constantly the 
actions, purposes, desires, faults, and virtues of the little 
group of Minervals who were placed under his personal 
direction and care/ For his guidance in this difficult task 
a complicated mass of instructions was furnished him.^ 

In addition to their continued presence in the assemblies 
of the Minervals, the members of this grade came together 
once a month by themselves, to hear reports concerning 
their disciples, to discuss methods of accomplishing the best 
results in their work of direction and to solicit each other's 
counsel in difficult and embarrassing cases. ^ In these meet- 
ings the records of the assemblies of the Minervals were 
reviewed and rectified and afterwards transmitted to the 
superior officers of the order. 

^ From two to four 'Minervals were given to each Illuminated 
Minerval, to receive his instructions in the principles and objects of 
the order. The selection of these pupils in a given instance was sup- 
posed to be based upon their openness to the influence of their particular 
instructor. Cf. Forestier, op. cit., p. 70 et seq. 

" Ibid., p. 71. The principle of espionage was cin important ele- 
ment in the administration of the order. iWeishaupt acknowledged his 
indebtedness to the ideal of organization which the Society of Jesus 
had set before him (C/. Endliche Erklarungen, pp. 60 et seq. Cf. 
Forestier, pp. 97-99), and the principle of one member spying upon 
another was apparently borrowed from that source. It was Weis- 
haupt's theory that dissimulation and hypocrisy could best be eradicated 
by proving to the members of the organization the inutility of such 
courses of life in view of the incessant surveillance under which all 
the members lived. {Cf. Der iiche Illuminat, p. 102.) Accordingly 
the Novice was left to surmise just how many eyes of unknown su- 
periors might be upon him. The duty imposed upon the Illuminated 
Minerval of informing upon his disciples has been noted above. Weis- 
haupt seems never to have surmised that this policy of espionage would 
tend to kill mutual confidence and fraternal regard at the roots. 

* Forestier, op. cit., p. 71. 


Such, in brief, was the system of the Illuminati as it came 
from the brain of Weishaupt, its founder. By means of 
such an organization he proposed to effect nothing less than 
the redemption of the world. In its assemblies the truths 
of human equality and fraternity were to be taught and 
practised.^ Its members were to be trained to labor for the 
welfare of the race; to strive for a civilization, not like that 
of the present, which left men savage and ferocious under its 
thin veneer, but one which would so radically change their 
moral dispositions as to put all their desires under the con- 
trol of reason — ^the supreme end of life, which neither civil 
nor religious institutions had been able to secure. ° The 
study of man was to be made at once so minute, so compre- 
hensive, and so complete ^ that two immense advantages 

' Weishaupt's conception of the content of these terms left room for 
a recognition of the benefits to be derived from society, but denied the 
value of the state. Man had moved forward, not backward, from his 
primitive condition. The satisfaction of his needs had supplied the 
motive force to his progress. In the state of nature, it is quite true, 
man enjoyed the two sovereign goods, equality and liberty. However, 
his disposition and desires were such that a continuance in the state 
of nature was impossible. The condition of misery into which he 
came resulted from his failure to acquire the art of controlling his 
faculties and curbing his passions, and from the injustice which he 
suffered the state to impose upon him. With the erection of the state 
had come the notions of the subjection of some men' to the power and 
authority of others, the consequent loss of the unity of the race, and 
the replacement of the love of humanity with nationalism, or patriotism. 
But political revolutions were not needed to accomplish the emancipa- 
tion of the race; such revolutions had always proved sterile because 
they touched nothing deeper than the constitutions of states. Man's 
nature needed to be reconstituted. To bring life under the control 
of reason would enable men again to possess themselves of equality 
and liberty. A return to man's primitive state is both impossible and 
undesirable. Social life is a blessing. Only let men learn to govern 
themselves by the light of reason, and civil authority, having been 
found utterly useless, will quickly disappear. Forestier, op. cit, pp. 

^Der dchte lUuminat, pp. no, 123. 

3 Forestier, op. cit, p. 78. 


would result : first, the acquisition of the art of influencing 
favorably the wills of one's fellows, thus making social 
reformation possible; and second, self-knowledge/ That 
is to say, the thorough scrutiny of the instincts, passions, 
thoughts, and prejudices of others, which the order im- 
posed upon him, would react in turn upon the member's 
judgment of his own personal life. As a result his con- 
science would be subjected to frequent examination, and 
the faults of his life might be expected to yield to correc- 
tion. From both of these advantages, working together, a 
moral transformation of the whole of society would result, 
thus securing the state of universal well-being.^ 

But this conception of the order as essentially an instru- 
ment of social education requires to be balanced by another, 
vis., its anticlericalism. Its founder professed that at the 
time when the idea of the order was taking shape in his 
mind he was profoundly influenced by the persecutions 
which honest men of unorthodox sentiments had been com- 
pelled to suffer on account of their views.^ Considerations 
growing out of his own personal embarrassments and im- 
agined peril on account of his clashings with the Jesuits 
were also admittedly weighty in his thought.* It is there- 

^ Forestier, op. cit., p. 80. 

' In view of the connections which the enemies of the order later 
made between the Illuminati and the French Revolution, it is worthy 
of particular emphasis that Weishaupt eschewed the principle of ef- 
fecting reform by political revolution, and definitely committed him- 
self to the ideal of moral and intellectual reformation. The slow 
process of ameliorating the unhappy condition of humanity through 
the leavening influence of the ideas propagated in the order, t. e., by 
reshaping private and public opinion, was the pathway which Weis- 
haupt chose. Der dchie Illuminat, pp. 10, 205. Such, at least, was the 
theory in the case. In practise the order abandoned the policy of non- 
intervention and sought to influence government by putting its members 
In important civil positions. Forestier, op, cit., pp. 329 et seq. 

3 Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens, p. 339. 

* Ibid., p. 279. 


fore to be regarded as a substantial element in his purpose 
to forge a weapon against the Jesuits, and in a larger sense 
to create a league defensive and offensive against all the 
enemies of free thought/ 

Accordingly, the expression of utterances hostile to Chris- 
tian dogmas was early heard within the assemblies of the 
order,^ and only the difficulty experienced in working out 
the supreme grade of the order inhibited Weishaupt's in- 
tention of converting it into a council of war to circumvent 
and overwhelm the advocates of supernaturalism and the 
enemies of reason.^ The pure religion of Christ, which, 
doctrinally conceived, had degenerated into asceticism and, 
from the institutional standpoint,* had become a school of 
fanaticism and intolerance, was pronounced a doctrine of 
reason, converted into a religion for no other purpose than 
to make it more efficacious.^ To love God and one's neigh- 
bor was to follow in the way of redemption which Jesus of 

'' Forestier, op. cit., p. 88. The anticlerical spirit of the order did not 
receive an. official emphasis commensurate with its importance and 
weight, doubtless because of Weishaupt's desire to work under cover 
against his enemies as completely as possible. Forestier's comment 
seems thoroughly just: " II ne faut pas oublier que Weishaupt en fon- 
dant sa iSociete n'avait pas songe seulement a faire le bonheur de 
I'humanite, mais qu'il avait cherche aussi a trouver des allies dans la 
lutte qu'il soutenait a Ingolstadt contre le parti des ex-Jesuites. A 
cote du but officiellement proclame, I'lOrdre un autre but, auquel 
on pensait d'autant plus qu'on en parlait moins." {Op. cit., p. 87. Cf. 
ibid., pp. 92, no.) 

^ Ibid., p. go. 

3 Einige Originalschriften des lUuminaten Ordens, p. 216. The 
order was to be used in the circulation of anticlerical and antireligious 
books and pamphlets, and the work of the priests and the monks was 
to be held in mind as constituting the chief obstacle to intellectual and 
moral progress. Forestier, op. cit., pp. 91, 92. 

* Ibid., p. 317. 

^ Ibid., p. 318. 


Nazareth, the grand master of the Illuininati, marked out 
as constituting the sole road which leads to liberty.^ 

The objects of the order were such as to appeal to the 
discontented elements in a country suffering from intellec- 
tual stagnation due to ecclesiastical domination.^ Despite 
this fact, its growth during the first four years of its exist- 
ence was anything but rapid. By that time four centers of 
activity, in addition to Ingolstadt, had been established, and 
a total of possibly sixty members recruited.^ While its 
visionary founder considered that a solid basis for encour- 
agement had been laid,* as a matter of fact at the termina- 
tion of the period just indicated the organization was seri- 
ously threatened with failure. Fundamental weaknesses 
had developed from within. Chief among these was the 
tension which existed almost from the first between Weis- 
haupt and the men whom he associated with him in the 

1 Forestier, op. cit., p. 318. This was treated as the esoteric doctrine 
of Christ, coming to the surface here and there in His teachings and acts, 
and revealed in the disciplina arcani of the early church. It is only when 
this secret teaching is grasped that the coherence of Jesus' utterances 
and the significance of the true doctrines of man's fall and his resur- 
rection cani be understood. It was because man abandoned the state 
of nature that he lost his dignity and his liberty. In other words, 
he fell because he ceased to fight against his sensual desires, sur- 
rendering himself to the rule of his passions. His work of redemption 
will be accomplished when he learns to moderate his passions and to 
limit his desires. The kingdom of grace is therefore a kingdom where- 
in men live in reason's light. 

^ " Par ses divers caracteres avoues ou secrets, I'Ordre des Illumines 
etait I'expression d'une epoque et d'un milieu. Le .Systeme ne dans le 
cerveau de Weishaupt avait trouve des adeptes en Baviere parce qu'il 
repondait aux aspirations et satisfaisait les haines de la classe cultivee 
dans ce pays." Ubid., p. 99.) 

3 These new centers were Munich, Regensburg, Freising, and 
Eichstatt. For data concerning the early enrollment of recruits, cf. ibid., 
pp. 30 et seq. 

^Ibid., p. 45. 


supreme direction of the affairs of the order. ^ The thirst 
for domination, which was native to the soul of Weishaupt, 
converted the order into a despotism against which men 
who had been taught by their leader that they shared with 
him the innermost secrets of the organization, rebelled. 
The result was the constant breaking-out of a spirit of in- 
subordination and a series of quarrels between the founder 
and his associates which rendered the future progress of 
the order very precarious.^ The extreme poverty of the 
organization constituted another serious obstacle to its 
rapid growth. With a view to demonstrating the genuine 
disinterestedness of the society, an effort had been made 
from the beginning to emphasize the financial interests of 
the order as little as possible.^ The rules of the organiza- 
tion were far from burdensome in this regard, and it is by 
no means surprising that many of the proposed measures 
of the leaders in the interests of a more extensive and effec- 
tive propaganda proved abortive for the very practical 
reason that funds were not available to carry them into 

A decidedly new turn in the wheel of fortune came some 
time within the compass of the year 1780," with the enroll- 

■ ' The term Areopagite was applied to the men who shared with 
Weishaupt the supreme direction of the order. Each was assigned a 
pseudonym. With one exception, Xavier Zwack (Danaus), they seem 
to have been men of very ordinary ability. Forestier, op. cit., p. 232. 

^ Ibid., pp. 231 et seq., 112 et seq. 

'Weishaupt's original plan had been to leave the matter of financial 
support to the discretion of the members. Einige Originalschriften 
des Illuminaten Ordens, p. 16. Time, however, proved the imprudence 
of this arrangement, and hence fixed dues, very modest in their char- 
acter, were imposed. Forestier, pp. 130 et seq. 

* Ibid., pp. 132 et seq. 

5 Engel gives the date of the admission of Knigge as July, 1780. Cf. 
Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens, p. 114. Forestier is less specific. 
Les Illumines de Baviere, S-c, p. 217. 


ment of Baron Adolf Franz Friederich Knigge ^ as a mem- 

' Baron Knigge (born near Hannover, October 16, 1752; died at 
Bremen, May 6, 1796) was a man of considerable distinction in his 
day. He had studied law at Gottingen, and later had been attached to 
the courts of Hesse-Cassel and Weimar. Retiring subsequently to 
private life, he made his home successively at Frankfort-on-the-Main, 
Heidelberg, Hannover, and Bremen. He was an author of note, a 
writer of romance, popular philosophy, and dramatic poetry. His best 
known work, Ueber den Umgang mit Menschen (Hannover, 1788), a 
volume filled with a discussion of practical principles and maxims of 
life and characterized by a narrow and egoistical outlook, enjoyed a 
considerable notoriety in its time. (Knigge's complete works were as- 
sembled and published in twelve volumes at Hannover, 1804-1806). 
He had a decided bias for secret societies, and at the earliest moment 
that his age permitted had joined a lodge of the Strict Observance, 
one of the Masonic branches of the period. The Strict Observance 
was particularly devoted to the reform of Masonry, with special refer- 
ence to the elimination of the occult sciences which at the time were 
widely practised in the lodges, and the establishment of cohesion and 
homogeneity in Masonry through the enforcement of strict discipline, 
the regulation of functions, etc. (Later, the leaders of the Strict 
Observance found themselves compelled to yield to the popular clamor 
for the occult sciences which were all but universal in European 
Freemasonry, and adopted them. Their presence and practice had 
been influential in attracting Knigge to the Masonic system. Cf. 
Forestier, op. cit., p. 207.) Knigge's Masonic career proved to be of such 
a nature as to leave him restless and unsatisfied. Because he was not 
permitted to enjoy the advancement in the order of the Strict Observ- 
ance that he coveted, he temporarily lost his interest in Masonry only 
to have it revived a little later by being chosen to assist in the estab- 
lishment of a new Masonic lodge at Hanau. Meantime his interest 
in the subjects of theosophy, magic, and particularly alchemy, grew 
apace. On this account he was led to make an effort to affiliate him- 
self with the Rosicrucians, a branch of Freemasonry notorious for the 
absurdity of its pretensions and its shameless pandering to the popular 
desire for occultism. Knigge's advance did not happen to be received 
with favor; and the result was that, finding himself compelled for the 
moment to be content with his membership in the iStrict Observance, 
he renounced his interest in alchemy and devoted his reflections to 
the development of a form of Masonry which should teach men rules 
of life by the observance of which they might gradually regain that 
perfection from which their original parents fell. It was at the mo- 
ment when Knigge's mind was occupied with this project that his 


ber. In the recruiting of this prominent North German 
diplomat Weishaupt and his associates found the resource- 
ful and influential ally for which the organization had 
waited, a man endowed with a genius for organization and 
so widely and favorably connected that the order was able 
to reap an immense advantage from the prestige which his 
membership bestowed upon it. Two weighty consequences 
promptly followed as the result of Knigge's advent into the ^ 
order. The long-sought higher grades were worked out, 
and an alliance between the Illuminati and Freemasonry 
was effected.^ 

Such was the confidence which Knigge's presence imme- 
diately inspired in Weishaupt and his associates that they 
hailed with enthusiasm his admission to the order, and 
gladly abandoned to him the task of perfecting the system, 
their own impotence for which they had been forced to 
admit.^ Manifesting a zeal and competency which fully 

membership in the Order of the Illuminati was solicited. Cf. Forestier, 
pp. 214 et seq. As to the personality of the man, the following esti- 
mate by Forestier is excellent : " . . . gentilhomme democrate, dilettante 
par temperament, homme de lettres par necessite, ecrivain abondant et 
mediocre, publiciste, moraliste, romancier sentimental et satirique, . . 
un personnage interessant moins encore en lui-meme que comme repre- 
sentant tfune caste en dissolution.'' {Op. cit., p. 202.) "^,^ 

' Weishaupt himself, overcoming his earlier antipathy to Freemasonry, \ 
had joined the Masons at Munich, in 1777, influenced particularly by \ 
his desire to find suggestions for the working out of the higher grades ^ 
of his order. Out of this connection, and under the persuasion of I 
Zwack, the plani of forming an alliance between the Illuminati and ; 
Freemasonry had occurred to Weishaupt's mind before Knigge joined ' 
the order. One Masonic lodge, that of Theodore of Good Counsel, 
located at Munich, had, by the middle of 1779, come so completely 
under the influence of members of the Illuminati that it had come to 
be regarded as a part of the order. Cf. Forestier, p. 200. But here 
again the situation' waited upon the energetic leadership of Knigge. 

^ Ihid., pp. 133 et seq. Cf. Engel, op. cit., pp. 114 et seq. iSoon after 
Knigge was admitted to the order, Weishaupt found himself driven 
to make to the former a most humiliating confession. Knigge hesi- 


justified the high regard of his brethren, Knigge threw him- 
self into the task of elaborating and rendering compact and 
coherent the childish ideas of organization which Weishaupt 
had evolved. 

The general plan of the order was so shaped as to throw 
the various grades or ranks into three principal classes/ 
-To the first class were to belong the grades Minerval and 
Illuminatus Minor; to the second/ (i) the usual three first 
grades of Masonry, Apprentice, Fellow, and Master, (2) 
Illuminatus Major, and (3) Illuminatus Dirigens, or Scot- 
tish Knight ; and to the third class were reserved the Higher 
Mysteries, including (a) the Lesser Mysteries, made up of 
the ranks of Priest and Prince, and (b) the Greater Mys- 
teries, comprising the ranks of Magus and King.' 

A detailed description of the various grades of Knigge's 
system would far outrun the reader's interest and patience.* 
The present writer therefore will content himself with mak- 

tated for some time before becoming a member, and to bring him 
to a decision Weishaupt painted the objects and character of the order 
before him in flaming colors. The lUnminati represented the greatest 
advancements in science, the most marvelous speculative philosophy, 
and a truly wonderful system to carry its purposes into effect. Having 
joined the order, Knigge's suspicions were aroused on account of the 
feeble and trifling character of its organization; and Weishaupt, upon 
being repeatedly pressed for an explanation concerning the nature of 
the so-called higher grades, had finally to confess to Knigge that they 
did not exist. Cf. Forestier, pp. 218-226. Knigge's resolution was 
staggered, but his courage was finally rallied because of the confidence 
which Weishaupt and the other leaders reposed in him. Cf. ibid., 
pp. 228 et seq. 

1 Nachtrag von weiteren Originalschriften, vol. i, p. 108. C/. 
Forestier, op. cit., p. 250; Engel, op. cit., p. 117. 

'The ligament to bind the lUuminati and Freemasonry together was 
supplied by Knigge in the grades of the second class. Cf. Engel, 
op. cit., p. 115. 

' Apparently these grades were never worked out. See Forestier, 
p. 250. 

* Forestier devotes more than forty well-packed pages to a discussion 
of this phase of the subject. Ibid., pp. 251-294. 


ing such comments as seem best suited to supply a general 
idea of the revised system. 

The grade Novice (a part of the system only in a pre- 
paratory sense) was left unchanged by Knigge, save for 
the addition of a printed communication to be put into the 
hands of all new recruits, advising them that the Order of 
the Illuminati stands over against all other forms of con- 
temporary Freemasonry as the one type not degenerate, and 
as such alone able to restore the craft to its ancient splen- 
dor/ The grade Minerval was reproduced as respects its 
statutes but greatly elaborated in its ceremonies under the 
influence of Masonic usages with which Knigge was famil- 
iar.^ The grade lUuminatus Minor was likewise left iden- 
tical with Weishaupt's redaction, save in unimportant par- 
ticulars as to special duties and in the working-out and 
explanation of its symbolism.^ 

The three s3rmbolic grades of the second class seem to 
have been devised solely for the purpose of suppl3ring an ave- 
nue whereby members of the various branches of the great 
Masonic family could pass to the higher grades of the new 
order.* Membership in these grades was regarded as a 
mere formality, the peculiar objects and secrets of the order 
having, of course, to be apprehended later. 

1 Der dchte lUuminat, p. 14. Pages 17-37, ibid., contains the descrip- 
tion of this grade as revised by Knigge. 

2 Ibid., pp. 39-78. 

3 Ibid., pp. 82-138. 

* Knigge had, of course, to provide a new ritual and code for these 
grades. These have not hten preserved. They were doubtless similar 
to those of other Masonic systems, in their Blue Lodge features. "La 
Franc-Magonnerie bleue etant le sol commun oil poussaient les vegeta- 
tions luxuriantes et diverges des hauts grades et le terrain ou tous les 
Franc-Magons pouvaient se rencontrer, les differents Systemes, pre- 
occupes d'etablir leur authcnticite et aussi pour ne pas derouter les 
transfuges des autres sectes, avaient soin de respecter les formes et les 
usages traditionnels. La Franc-Ma?onnerie lUuminee obeit vraisembla- 
blement aux memes considerations." (Forestier, op. cit., p. 262.) 


A candidate for admission to the grade of lUuminatus 
Major was first to be subjected to a rigorous examination 
as respects his connections with other secret organizations 
and his objects in seeking advancement. His superiors 
being satisfied upon these points, it was provided that he 
should be admitted to the grade by means of a ceremonial 
highly Masonic in its coloring. His special duties were 
four in number : ( i ) to prepare a detailed analysis of his 
character, according to specific instructions furnished him; 
(2) to assist in the training of those members of the order 
who were charged with the responsibility of recruiting new 
members; (3) to put his talents and his social position 
under tribute for the benefit of the order, either by himself 
stepping into places of honor which were open or by nomi- 
nating for such places other members who were fitted to 
fill them; and (4) to cooperate with other members of his 
rank in the direction of the assemblies of the Minervals.^ 

Advanced to the grade of Illuminatus Dirigens, or Scot- 
tish Knight, the member bound himself with a written oath 
to withhold his support from every other system of Ma- 
sonry, or from any other secret society, and to put all his 
talents and powers at the disposition of the order.^ His 
obligations in this rank were purely administrative in their 
character. The inferior grades of the order were territor- 
ially grouped together into prefectures, and upon these the 
authority of the Illuminatus Dirigens was imposed. Each 
Illuminatus Dirigens had a certain number of Minerval 

1 Forestier, op. cit., p. 272. Der iichte Illuminat, pp. 139-212, contains 
the ritual and statutes of this grade. 

' The initiatory rites of this grade were followed by a banquet, which 
in turn was concluded by a ceremony fashioned after the pattern of 
the Christian Eucharist. Bread and wine were given to the members, 
and an effort was made to throw an atmosphere of great solemnity 
about the observance. Cf. Forestier, pp. 278 et seq. Christian enemies 
of the order took special umbrage at this ceremony. 


assemblies and lodges assigned to him, and for the welfare 
of these he was responsible to the superiors of the order. 
The members of this grade constituted the " Sacred Secret 
Chapter of the Scottish Knights," from which issued the 
patents of constitution for the organization of new lodges.^ 
To the first grade of the third class, that of Priest,^ were 
admitted only such members as, in the grade Minerval, had 
given proof of their zeal and advancement in the particular 
sciences which they had chosen/ The initiatory ceremonies 
of the grade emphasized the wholly unsatisfactory char- 
acter of existing political and religious systems and 
sounded the candidate's readiness to serve the order in its 
eflforts to lead the race away from the vain inventions of 
civil constitutions and religious dogmas from which it suf- 
fered.* Relieved entirely of administrative responsibilities, 
the members of this grade devoted themselves exclusively 
to the instruction of their subordinates in the following 
branches of science: physics, medicine, mathematics, nat- 
ural history, political science, the arts and crafts, and the 
occult sciences. In brief, the final supervision of the teach- 

' The Chapter was placed under obligation to see that Blue Lodges, 
not to exceed thirty all told, were established in all the important 
centers of its district. They had also to see that the Order of the 
lUuminati secretly obtained a preponderating influence in the lodges 
of other systems, to reform them if possible, or, failing in this, to 
ruin them. A Prefect, or Local Superior, who furnished regular re- 
ports to his superiors, presided over the Chapter. Cf. Forestier, 
pp. 279-281. 

' The members of this class were usually referred to as Epopts, and 
their immediate superiors as Hierophants. These superiors were 
technically known as Deans. Ibid., pp. 287, 281. 

'Their admission to the rank was further conditioned upon their 
advancement in Masonry and the effectiveness of their service in the 
lower grades of the Illuminati. Cf. ibid., p. 281. 

* The rites of initiation into this grade expressed a growing tendency 
in the direction of sacerdotal pomp. Cf. ibid., pp. 283-286. 


ing function of the order was in their hands, subject only to 
the ultimate authority of their supreme heads/ 

Knigge's statutes provided that only a very small number 
of members were to be admitted to the grade of Prince.* 
From this group the highest functionaries of the order were 
to be drawn: National Inspectors, Provincials,* Prefects, 
and Deans of the Priests. Over them, in turn, at the apex 
of the system and as sovereign heads of the order, ruled the 

So much for the external structure of the system which 
Knigge reshaped. With respect to the aims and principles of 
the order the modifications introduced by him were consid- 
erable, although scarcely as comprehensive as in the former 
case.' In certain instances the ideas of Weishaupt were 

^ "Comme toutes les demandes de renseignements leur etaient trans- 
mises, ils devaient s'eflforcer de satisfaire leurs gens et d'etablir des 
theories solidement construites en faisant etudier et elucider par leurs 
subordonnes les points restes obscurs." (Ibid., p. 288.) Free entree 
to all the assemblies of the inferior grades of the order was accorded 
the Priests, but only in the ceremony of reception into the grade of 
Scottish Knight did they appear in costume. On other occasions they 
were not obliged to make their official character known. 

' The prefectures were grouped together into provinces, of which 
there seem to have been twelve, to each of which, as to the prefectures 
and their capitals, pseudonymous names were given. For the geogra- 
phical divisions of the Illuminati system, cf. Forestier, pp. 295 et seq. 

' The title of Regent was also used in this connection. 

* Provincials, as the term suggests, had control over the various 

' An important modification in the government of the order was made 
by Knigge with respect to its general form. Knigge found the order 
a despotism, and this he regarded as a fundamental weakness and error. 
The Areopagites, who chafed excessively under Weishaupt's immoder- 
ate zeal to command, and between whom and their leader constant and 
perilous divisions arose, eagerly sided with Knigge in his efforts to 
distribute authority. At the latter's suggestion a congress was called 
at Munich, in October, 1780, at which the position and authority of 
the Areopagites were definitively settled. The territory, present and 


retained and developed ; ^ in others significant alterations 
were made or new ideas introduced. Of the new ideas the 
two following were unquestionably of greatest weight : * 
the notion of restricting the field of recruiting solely to the 
young was abandoned, and this phase of the propaganda 
was widened so as to include men of experience whose wis- 
dom and influence might be counted upon to assist in 
attaining the objects of the order; * the policy was adopted 
that henceforth the order should not occupy itself with 
campaigns against particular political and religious systems, 
but that its energies should be exerted against superstition, 
despotism, and tyranny.* In other words, the battle for 

prospective, of the order was divided into twelve provinces, each of 
which was to be governed by a Provincial. The posts of Provincials 
were thereupon distributed among the Areopagites. Each Provincial 
was to be left free to administer his province without direct inter- 
ference on the part of Weishaupt, who remained the supreme head. 
Cf. Forestier, pp. 231-234; cf. ibid., p. 244. Knigge was thus per- 
mitted to take pride in the fact that whereas he found the order a 
monarchy, he left it under " une espece de gouvernement republicain." 
(Cf. ibid., p. 305.) 

■ To illustrate : The teaching function of the order was fully worked 
out and made effective by centering its direction in the grade of 
Priests. Forestier also notes Kjiigge's retention of the founder's in- 
sistence upon the knowledge of man as " la science par excellence." 
The principle of espionage was likewise retained. Cf. Forestier, 
pp. 298-304. 

' The remodeling of the order in order to graft it on to the stem of 
Freemasonry has already been indicated. No practical result of 
Knigge's work exceeded this. 

' Certainly at this point Knigge's feet were planted more solidly upon 
the earth than those of his fanciful predecessor. Cf. Forestier, 
pp. 240 et seq. 

*The practical considerations which impelled Knigge to adopt this 
position were dictated by diplomatic rather than by conscientious 
reasons, although the latter were not wholly wanting. Knigge was well 
aware of the conditions in Catholic countries like Bavaria which gave 
rise to the violent anticlerical sentiments that the leaders of the 
lUuminati echoed. Nor was he out of sympathy with the men of his 


tolerance and enlightenment should be waged along uni- 
versal and not local lines. Accordingly, the esoteric teach- 
ing of the order, under Knigge's revision, was reserved to 
the higher grades. 

The progress of the order from 1780 on ^ was so rapid 
as to raise greatly the spirits of its leaders. The new 
method of spreading Illuminism by means of its affiliation 
with Masonic lodges promptly demonstrated its worth. 
Largely because of the fine strategy of seeking its recruits 

time who protested against religious intolerance and bigotry. But a 
spirit of anticlericalism readily enough becomes transmuted into a 
spirit essentially anti-religious, and Knigge saw that any manifestation 
of this sort would seriously embarrass the propaganda of the order in 
Protestant as well as in Catholic lands. Knigge's personal religious 
views appear to have been liberal rather than ultra radical. For a full 
and lucid discussion of the whole topic, cf. Forestier, pp. 238 et seq. 

* Knigge's proposed modifications of the organization and principles 
of the order were adopted by the Areopagites, July 9, 1 781. Cf. 
Forestier, p. 240. This action amounted to a virtual defeat for Weis- 
haupt and a corresponding triumph for Knigge. In other words, a 
new) epoch had begun. Engel's observations on the significance of 
the new policies and the respective services rendered by the two men 
is characteristically biased : " Weishaupt war tatsachlich der einzige im 
Orden, der streng darauf achtete, sein System der Notwendigkeit 
unterzuordnen, wohl wissend, dass dadurch allein der Bestand des 
Ordens gesichert wtirde. Phantastische Grade entwerfen, ohne eine 
Spur der Notwendigkeit, dass durch diese der Zweck der Vereinigung 
sicherer erreicht werde, dann die Mitglieder in die Aeusserlichkeit dieser 
Form einpressen und einschnureu', ist leider ein vielfach noch jetzt 
angewandtes, unbrauchbares Rezept, dem auch Knigge huldigte. 
Letzterem war es ebenso wie vielen Areopagiten nur darum zu tun, 
viele Mitglieder zu haben, um dadurch Eindruck zu erzielen, die 
geistige Qualitat stand in zweiter Linie." (Geschichte des Illuminaten- 
Ordens, pp. 123 et seq.) Knigge brought more than organizing skill 
to the languishing order. His accomplishments as a winner of recruits 
materially helped to fan the smouldering fires of enthusiasm among the 
earlier leaders. As early as November, 1780, he had begun to enroll 
adepts (the term commonly applied to members of the order, new and 
old), and some of these turned out to be most effective propagandists. 
Cf. Forestier, pp. 343 et seq. 


among the officers and other influential personages in the 
lodges of Freemasonry, one after another of the latter in 
quick succession went over to the new system/ New pre- 
fectures were established, new provinces organized, and 
Provincials began to report a steady and copious stream of 
new recruits.- From Bavaria into the upper and lower 
Rhenish provinces the order spread into Suabia, Franconia, 
Westphalia, Upper and Lower Saxony, and outside of 
Germany into Austria ^ and Switzerland. Within a few 

'Forestier is disposed to explain the power of appeal which the new 
system had for the members of rival Masonic systems on the following 
grounds: (i) it at least pretended to take more seriously the 
doctrines of equality and liberty; (2) it emphasized the jjeriod of 
adolescence as the best of all ages for the winning of recruits; (3) it 
made appreciably less of financial considerations; and (4) it tended to 
turn attention away from such chimeras as the philosopher's stone, 
magic, and knight-templar chivalry, which filled with weak heads and 
visionary spirits the high grades of most of the other systems. Cf. 
ibid., p. 340. German Freemasonry was far from being in a wholesome 
and promising condition when the order of the Illuminati emerged. 
From its introduction into that country sometime within the second 
quarter of the eighteenth century, it had developed two general types; 
viz., English Freemasonry and the French high grades. The former- 
was generally disposed to be content with simple organizations. Its 
lodges were little more than secret clubs whose members had their 
signs of recognition and their simple rituals, and whose ideals were 
represented by the terms fraternity and cooperation. The latter de- 
veloped an excess of ceremonies and " mysteries '', and thus opened the 
door for the introduction of impostures of every sort. Visionaries 
and charlatans flocked to the French lodges, and alchemy and thaum- 
aturgy found in their secret quarters a veritable hot-house for their 
culture. It is Forestier's opinion that this activity and influen'-e of 
dreamers and mountebanks within the Masonic lodges is to be regarded 
as a reaction from the dreariness and sterility of current rationalism. 
Cf. ibid., p. 146. However that may be, in the third quarter of the 
eighteenth century German Freemasonry generally was catering to a 
popular thirst for mystery, and the Order of the Illuminati was able 
to draw advantage from that fact. Certainly the very novelty of the 
new system had much to do with its attractiveness. 

2 Forestier, op. cit., p. 344. 

' Engel's treatment of the situation would seem to be inadequate and 


months after Knigge rescued the order from the moribund 
condition in which he found it, the leaders were able to re- 
joice in the accession of three hundred members, many of 
whom by their membership immensely enhanced the prestige 
of the order. Students, merchants, doctors, pharmacists, 
lawyers, judges, professors in gymnasia and universities, 
preceptors, civil officers, pastors, priests — all were gener- 
ously represented among the new recruits/ Distinguished 
names soon appeared upon the rosters of the lodges of the 
new system. Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, Duke Ernst 
of Gotha, Duke Karl August of Saxe-Weimar, Prince 
August of Saxe^Gotha, Prince Carl of Hesse, Baron Dal- 
berg," the philosopher Herder, the poet Goethe,* the edu- 
cationist Pestalozzi,* were among the number enrolled. By 
the end of 1784 the leaders boasted of a total enrollment of 
between two and three thousand members,' and the estab- 

lacking in accuracy. Cf. Engel, op. cit., p. 352. Forestier submits 
ample proofs of the expansion of the order to include Austria and 
Switzerland, notably the former. Cf. Forestier, op. cit., pp. 346 et seq., 
398 et seq. 

^ Ibid., pp. 349 et seq. 

' Engel identifies Dalberg as the last elector of Mainz, and, in the 
time of Napoleon I, grand duke of Frankfort. See ibid., p. 354. 
Forestier extends the list of civil notables to include Count Metternich, 
imperial ambassador at Coblenz; Count Brigido, governor of Galicia; 
Count Leopold Kolowrat, chancellor of Bohemia; Baron Kressel, vice- 
chancellor of Bohemia; Count Poelffy, chancellor of Hungary; Count 
BanflFy, governor of Translyvania ; Count iStadion, ambassador at Lon- 
don; and Baron Van Swieten, minister of public instruction. (The 
last seven were members of the lodge established at Vienna.) Cf. 
ibid., pp. 400 et seq. 

' Goethe's connection with the order is fully established by both 
Engel (cf. ibid., pp. 355 et seq.) and Forestier (cf. ibid., pp. 396 
et seq.). The question whether Schiller belonged to the lUuminati is 
answered in the negative by Engel. Cf. ibid., p. 356. 

* " Un pedagogue oelebre, Pestalozzi, figurait parmi les membres de 
rfiglise Minervale de Lautern." (Forestier, p. 349.) 

Ibid., p. 399. 


lishment of the order upon a solid foundation seemed to be 
fully assured/ 

But just at the moment when the prospects were bright- 
est, the knell of doom suddenly sounded/ Dangers from 

' In its eflforts to obtain a decisive triumph over rival systems of 
Freemasonry, substantial progress had been made. At Munich, the 
Secret Chapter of the dominant Masonic fraternity in that city capi- 
tulated to the new system. At Vienna, Masons eagerly enrolled as 
lUuminati with a view to blocking the attempt of the Rosicrucians to 
extend the hegemony of that branch. The important general congress 
of Freemasons, held at Wilhelmsbad, in July, 1782, for the purpose of 
arriving at some conclusion concerning the claims of rival systems, 
yielded to the lUuminati a double advantage: the pretensions of the 
Order of the Strict Observance, its most dangerous rival, were dis- 
allowed and the opportunity which the congress offered in the form 
of a field for winning new recruits was adroitly seized by representa- 
tives of the lUuminati, with the result that its emissaries retired from 
the congress completely satisfied. Further, the Order of the lUuminati 
had apparently put itself on the high road to a complete victory in the 
Masonic world by securing the enlistment of the two most important 
personages in German Freemasonry, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswidc 
and Prince Carl of Hesse. The full extent of the order's conquests 
among the various branches of Masonry is impossible of full and 
accurate statement, for the principal reason which Engel gives : " Nur 
wenige Dokumente existieren als Nachweis, denn es ist natiirlich, dass 
solche in der Verfolgungszeit in Bayern vernichtet wurden, um nicht 
verdachtigt zu werden und aussere Verbindungen ziemlich schroff abge- 
brochen wurden, als sich die Skandalsucht erhob und dem Orden und 
deren Leiter all erdenlichen iSchlechtigkeiten andichtete. Im Laufe der 
Zeit sind dann die betreffenden Schriften von den Logen als minder- 
wertig missachtet und beseitigt worden, so dass eine Aufklarung heute 
ungemein erschwert ist." (O/i. cit., pp. 349 et seq.) Still, Forestier, 
in his chapter on "L' Action sur les Loges AUeraandes" (pp. 343-388), 
from which the foregoing isolated facts are drawn, gathers together 
a very considerable body of evidence, all tending to show that Illu- 
minated Freemasonry was permitted to enjoy a very gratifying, though 
brief, period of prosperity. 

* Writing of the condition of the order at the hour of its apogee, in 
17S4, Forestier says: "La situation de TOrdre a cette epoque parait 
done des plus prosperes. Solidement etabli en Baviere, il s'etend sur 
toute I'Europe Centrale, du Rhin a la Vistule et des Alpes a la mer 
du Nord et a la Baltique. II compte au nombre de ses membres des 


within and from without, with bewildering celerity and con- 
currence, like a besom of destruction swept from the earth 
the order which Adam Weishaupt, with such exaggerated 
anticipations, had constituted out of a little group of ob- 
scure students at Ingolstadt, on May Day, 1 776. 

The internal difficulties were of the nature of dissensions 
among the chiefs. The old jealousies that existed between 
Weishaupt and the Areopagites ^ before Knigge recon- 
structed the order were not eradicated by the introduction 
of the new system, and in course of time they flamed forth 
anew.^ But ugly in temper and subversive of discipline and 
order as these petty contentions were, they were of little 
importance as compared with the fatal discord which arose 
between Weishaupt and Knigge. The spirit of humility 
that the former manifested in 1780, when in desperation he 
turned to Knigge for assistance, did not long continue. 
Aroused by the danger of seeing his personal control of the 
order set aside and himself treated as a negligible factor, 
Weishaupt sought opportunities of asserting his preroga- 
tives, and the ambition of Knigge being scarcely less selfish 
than that of Weishaupt, the two men quarreled repeatedly 
and long.' So bitter and implacable the spirit of the two 

jeunes gens qui appliqueront plus tard les principes qu'il leur a in- 
culques, des fonctionnaires de tout ordre qui mettent leur influence a 
son service, des membres du clerge auxquels il enseigne la tolerance, des 
princes dent il peut invoquer la protection et qu'il espere diriger. II 
semble que le Grand Architecte de I'Univers ait specialement veille sur 
lui. ..." {Op. cit., p. 401.) 

^ The term was no longer in official use, but the men remained. In 
other words, Weishaupt's Areopagites were Knigge's Provincials. 

2 Forestier, op. cit, pp. 411-413. 

' Engel asserts that the chief apple of discord was the grade of 
Priest. Weishaupt believed that Knigge had injected into the ritual of 
the order at that point expressions of radical religious sentiment which, 
if once discovered to the public, would be found extremely injurious 
to the order. Cf. ibid., pp. 133 et seq. Cf. Forestier, op. cit., p. 415. But 


became that in the end, exercising a discretion dictated by 
despair rather than generosity, Knigge withdrew from the 
field, leaving Weishaupt in undisputed possession of the 
coveted headship of the order. 

But the fruits of his victory the latter had little chance to 
enjoy/ On June 22, 1784, Carl Theodore - launched the 
first of his edicts against all communities, societies, and 
brotherhoods in his lands which had been established with- 
out due authorization of law and the confirmation of the 
sovereign.^ The edict, to be sure, was general in its char- 

this was only one of many bones of contention. At bottom the two 
men were inordinately jealous, both as to their positions in the order 
and the systems which they had worked out. 

* Knigge withdrew from the order April 20, 1784. In July of the 
same year he put his name to an agreement, pledging himself to restore 
such papers of the order as he possessed and to maintain silence con- 
cerning what he knew of the order's affairs. Cf. Forestier, p. 428. 
Freed from his responsibilities to the order, Knigge resumed his work 
as a writer, by which he managed to maintain himself very indifferently 
in funds. He was finally accorded a government post, as inspector of 
schools, at Bremen, where he died. Cf. ibid., pp. S49-SS1. 

' Carl Theodore, successor to Maximilian Joseph, as Elector Palatinate 
had been ruler of the provinces of the Rhine since 1742. When he 
became duke of Upper and Lower Bavaria in 1777, he had established a 
reputation as a liberal-minded sovereign. The first two years of his 
rule in Bavaria gave promise of a tolerant reign; but reactionaries, in 
the persons of his confessor, the ex-Jesuit Frank, a certain Baron 
Lippert, who was devoted to the cause of ultramontanism, and the 
duchess dowager of Bavaria and sister of the duke, Maria Anna, 
worked upon his spirit and easily persuaded the well-meaning but weak- 
willed monarch to reverse his former policy and come to the defence 
of the cause of clericalism. See the comments of Professor August 
Kluckhohn, quoted by Engel, p. 4. 

3 Cf. Engel, op. cit., p. 161, where the edict in full may be found. Cf. 
Forestier, p. 453. The Bavarian monarch's bold and, at first blush, 
precipitate action is explained by the following facts: Flushed with 
a sense of their growing influence and power, the Bavarian lUuminati 
for some time past had been guilty of extremely imprudent utterances 
which had excited the public mind. To certain of their critics, notably 
the priest Frank and the canon Dantzer, director of the schools of 


acter, and the Bavarian Illuminati were glad to believe that 
their system was not specially involved : by lying low for a 
season the squall would speedily blow over and the activ- 

Bavaria, they had not deigned to make a specific reply. (Dantzer, 
not wholly unfairly, charged the members of the order with inter- 
ference in the affairs of the public school system of the country). A 
lofty tone of assumed indifference characterized the leaders; but a 
spirit of boasting which led the members to profess the exercise of 
a controlling influence in civil affairs, together with less guarded ex- 
pressions respecting the extreme religious and political ideals of the 
order, served to arouse public suspicion. To this extent the Bavarian 
Illuminati had themselves to blame for the ruin of the order. Cf. 
Forestier, pp. 430-438. On the part of the government, the situation 
in its main outlines developed somewhat as follows : Early in October, 
1783, the duchess dowager, Maria Anna, was made the recipient of a 
document that contained detailed accusations against the Illuminati 
of Bavaria, charging them with holding such vicious moral and reli- 
gious sentiments as that life should be controlled by passion rather 
than reason, that suicide is justifiable, that one may poison one's enemies, 
and that religion should be regarded as nonsense and patriotism as 
puerility. Finally, and much more seriously from the particular point 
of view of the duchess, the Bavarian Illuminati were accused of being 
in the service of the government of Austria, whose efforts at the time 
to extend its hegemony over Bavaria had created considerable tension 
in the latter country. For a copy in full of the famous letter, cf. 
Engel, pp. 183-187. Cf. Forestier, pp. 440 et seq. The author, or at 
least the inspirer of the document seems to have been one Joseph 
Utzschneider (Engel disallows this; see op. cit, pp. 187 et seq.) who, 
discontented on account of his slow advancement and enraged by exac- 
tions imposed upon him to prove his loyalty, had withdrawn from the 
Order of the Illuminati, in August, 1783. Later, Utzschneider persuaded 
several other members, among them Griinberger and Cosandey, fellow 
professors with him in the Academy of .Santa Maria, to follow him in 
the course he had taken. Obtaining from his associates the ritual of 
the higher grades of the order, he prepared and despatched his pre- 
sentment to the duchess. Cf. Forestier, pp. 444 et seq. The latter, 
greatly alarmed by the document, carried the accusations, particularly 
the charge of intrigues in the interests of Austria, to the duke, who 
thus far had manifested an attitude of indifference to the suspicions 
that had been engendered concerning the order. His fear being awak- 
ened by the considerations of danger to his person and throne that 
were urged, the duke resolved to bring matters to an immediate crisis. 
Cf, ibid., p. 452. 


ities of the order might safely be resumed.^ These antici- 
pations, however, were doomed to disappointment. Hav- 
ing surrendered himself completely to the spirit of reaction, 
and spurred by reports of the covert disobedience of the 
order which his entourage spread before him,^ the Bava- 
rian monarch, on March 2 of the following year, issued 
another edict that specifically designated the lUuminati as 
one of the branches of Freemasonry, all of which were 
severely tipbraided for their failure to yield implicit obe- 
dience to the will of the sovereign as expressed in the pre- 
vious edict, and a new ban, more definite and sweeping in 
its terms than the former, was thereby proclaimed.' 

1 Engel, op. cit., p. 161. The leaders of the order in Bavaria exerted 
themselves to disarm the suspicions of the government with reference 
to any lack of loyal submission to the interdict. Circular letters con- 
taining copies of the edict and commanding the lodges to suspend their 
labors were addressed to the brethren. A lack of sincerity showed 
itself, however, in the efforts of the leaders to convey the impression 
to their subordinates that the sudden tempest would soon pass and that 
-care therefore must be observed to preserve the cohesion of the order. 
In one important particular this effort to allay suspicion over-reached 
itself. In July, 1784, certain members of the order inserted an article 
in a Bavarian journal, the Realzeitung of Erlangen, of the nature of a 
counter-attack upon the Jesuits, and claiming that the latter, in defiance 
of the government, were continuing their secret associations. To this 
a recriminating answer was promptly made, and a war of newspaper 
articles and pamphlets was soon on. All of this tended, of course, to 
lend color to the suspicion that the operations of the order continued 
unabated. Cf. Forestier, pp. 454 et seq. Cf. Engel, pp. 240 et seq. 
The duchess, Maria Anna, moreover, continued her efforts to strengthen 
the purpose of the duke. Cf. Forestier, p. 467. 

' The precise occasion, if any existed, for the launching of the second 
edict remains wholly in doubt. In a final effort to clear the order from 
the suspicions and calumniations raised against it, an appeal was made 
to Carl Theodore, in February, 1785, to permit representatives of the 
order to appear before him and furnish proofs of its innocence. This 
last desperate device failed. Cf. Engel, pp. 283-290, for a copy of this 
letter. Cf. Forestier, pp. 465 et seq. 

' Engel, as in the former instance, copies the second edict in full. 


A fixed resolution on the part of the government to give 
full force to the provisions of the interdict left no room 
for evasion/ In response to the call of its enemies, former 
members of the order who, either because of scruples of 
conscience or for less honorable reasons, had withdrawn 
from its fellowship, came forward to make formal declara- 
tions respecting their knowledge of its affairs.^ In this 
direct manner the weapons needed for the waging of an 
effective campaign against the society were put into the 
government's hands. ^ Judicial inquiries were inaugurated, 
beginning at Ingolstadt.* Measures of government, all 

Cf. op. cit., pp. 161-164. Cf. Forestier, pp. 468, 469. The terms of the 
second interdict provided that, in view of the alleged degenerate char- 
acter of the Order of the Illuminati, as well as of the disorders it had 
occasioned, all its financial resources should be confiscated, half to be 
given to the poor and half to the informer against the order, " wenn 
er gleich selbst ein Mitglied ware . . und solcher keineswegs geoffen- 
bart, sondern in Geheim gehalten werden soUe." (Engel, p. 164.) 

^ Forestier's comment is trenchant : " Par une ironie du sort, le 
gouvernement, si indifferent ou si tolerant jusqu'alors, ne commenga a 
servir que lorsque le danger etait passe et, apres avoir respecte si long- 
temps I'organisme vivant, il s'acharna sur le cadavre." {Op. cit., p. 469.) 

' Cosandey and Renner (the latter also a professor associated with 
Cosandey on the faculty of the Academy of Santa Maria) were two of 
the men who supplied important information in this manner. Engel, 
pp. 291-304, prints their declarations. In this way, also, lists of names 
of members of the order came into possession of the government. Cf. 
Engel, pp. 303 et seq. 

•A considerable amount of the most valuable papers of the order 
were either carefully concealed or devoted to the flames immediately 
after the launching of the second edict. Cf. Forestier, p. 469. Later, 
the government obtained important assistance in its campaign by coming 
into possession of a considerable portion of those that were spared. 
Cf. Engel, pp. 259 et seq., 276 et seq. 

* Cf. Forestier, p. 475. Weishaupt was well out of harm's way when 
the inquiry began in his home city. He brought lasting discredit upon 
himself by resorting to precipitate flight two weeks before the pro- 
clamation of the second ban. It is evident that he saw the storm 
gathering, and was resolved to put himself beyond personal danger. 


aimed at nothing short of the complete suppression and 
annihilation of the order, followed one another in rapid suc- 
cession. Officers and soldiers in the army were required to 
come forward and confess their relations with the lUumi- 
nati, under promise of immunity if ready and hearty in their 
response, but under pain of disgrace, cassation, or other 
punishment if refractory.^ Members and officers of con- 
sular boards were subjected to similar regulations.^ Offi^ 
cers of state and holders of ecclesiastical benefices who were 
found to have connections with the order were summarily 
dismissed from their posts.* Professors in universities and 
teachers in the public schools suffered a like fate.* Students 
who were recognized as adepts were dismissed, and in some 
cases were banished from the country."^ 

As a system the order was shattered, but its supporters 
were not wholly silenced. Weishaupt particularly, from his 
place of security in a neighboring country, lifted his voice 

whatever might happen to his associates. The excuse he seems to have 
trumped up to justify his early flight had reference to a difficulty that 
arose between him and the librarian of the University of Ingolstadt 
over the latter's failure to purchase two books which Weishaupt held 
he needed for his classes. He fled across the border to Regensburg, 
and finally settled at Gotha. 

1 Cf. Engel, op. cit., p. 305, for a copy of the order. This measure seemed 
to be rendered necessary by the fact that the lists of Illuminati which 
Cosandey and Renner furnished the government contained the names 
of several officers and other military personages. A later decree called 
upon ex-members of the order in the army to furnish information 
concerning the teachings and membership of the order, and to present 
such papers and insignia as might be at hand. Cf. Forestier, p. 481. 

'Those who made a frank acknowledgment of their membership in: 
the order were to be pardoned, while those who hesitated or showed 
themselves contumacious were not only to lose their positions but to 
suffer other penalties. Cf. Forestier, p. 478. 

3 Ibid. 

* Ibid. 

= Ibid., p. 475. 


against the men who had betrayed the order and the gov- 
ernment which had ruined it. Taking recourse to his pen, 
with incredible rapidity he struck off one pamphlet and 
volume after another/ in a feverish effort, offensive and 
defensive, to avert if possible total disaster to the cause 
which, despite all his frailties, he truly loved. The one clear 
result of his polemical efforts was to draw the fire of those 
who defended the denunciators of the afflicted order and 
who supported the clerical party and the government. A 
war of pamphlets developed, the noise and vehemence of 
which were destined to add, if possible, to the embarrass- 
ment and pain of those members of the order who still re- 
mained in Bavaria. Once more the suspicions of the gov- 
ernment were aroused ; a search was made by the police for 
further evidence, and in the month of October, 1786, at 
Landshut, in the house of Xavier Zwack,^ one of the order's 
most prominent leaders, decisive results were achieved. A 
considerable number of books and papers were discovered,^ 
the latter containing more than two hundred letters that had 
passed between Weishaupt and the Areopagites, dealing 

' Forestier gives the title of nine such productions that came from 
Weishaupt's pen within the space of a few montlis. Cf. op. cit., p. 484. 
The most notable of these were: Apologie der Illuminaten, Frankfort 
and Leipzig, 1786, and Vollstandige Geschichte der Verfolgung der 
Illuminaten in Bayern, Frankfort and Leipzig, 1786. The latter was 
planned to consist of two volumes, but only one appeared. 

' Zwack's name had been on the list of members which Renner had 
put into the hands of the government. He was at the time a councillor 
of state. A short time before his house was invaded by the police 
and his papers seized, he had been deposed from his position on 
account of his relations with the Illuminati. At the time of the seizure 
he was living at Landshut in circumstances of disgrace and suspicion. 
Cf. iEngel, p. 303; Forestier, pp. 480, 498. 

' These documents were published by the Bavarian government, under 
the title: Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens, Munich, 
1787. Engel, pp. 259-262, publishes the list compiled by the government. 


with the most intimate affairs of the order, together with 
tables containing the secret symbols, calendar, and geo- 
graphical terms belonging to the system, imprints of its in- 
signia, a partial roster of its membership, the statutes, in- 
struction for recruiters, the primary ceremony of initia- 
tion, etc.^ 

Here was the complete range of evidence the authorities 
had long waited for. Out of the mouths of its friends, the 

' Among these papers were found two smaller packets which gave a 
foundation for the most inveterate hostility to the order. These con- 
tained intimations of the order's right to exercise the law of life and 
death over its members, a brief dissertation entitled, Gedanken iiber 
den Selbstmord, wherein Zwack, its author, had recorded his defence 
of suicide {cf. Engel, p. 262), a eulogy of atheism, a proposal to 
establish a branch of the order for women, the description of an 
infernal machine for safeguarding secret papers, and receipts for pro- 
curing abortion, counterfeiting seals, making poisonous perfumes, secret 
ink, etc. {Cf. Forestier, pp. 499 et seq.) The receipts for procuring 
abortion were destined to have a very ugly personal association in the 
public mind. Weishaupt, while still a resident of Ingolstadt, had 
stained his private life because of a liaison with his sister-in-law. On 
the 8 of February, 1780, his first wife had died. Her sister, who was 
his house-keeper at the time, continued in the household, and during 
the time that Weishaupt was waiting for a papal dispensation, per- 
mitting his marriage with her, she was found to be with child. Thrown 
into a panic on account of the failure of the dispensation to arrive 
(as a matter of fact it did not reach Ingolstadt until three years after 
it was first applied for), Weishaupt contemplated recourse to the 
method of procuring an abortion, in order to extricate himself from his 
painfully embarrassed position. In August, 1783, he wrote Hertel, one 
of the prominent members of the order, admitting the facts just stated. 
This letter fell into the hands of the authorities and was published by 
them in the volume entitled, Nachtrag von weiteren Originalschriften, 
Munich, 1787, vol. i, p. 14. The stigma of a new disgrace was thus 
attached to the order. Weishaupt made a pitifully weak effort to 
suggest extenuating circumstances for his conduct, in his volume, 
Kurze Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten, 17S7, pp. 13 et seq. Taken 
in connection with the objectionable papers referred to above, this 
private scandal of the head of the order made the accusation of gross 
immorality on the part of the Illuminati difficult to evade. A spirit 
of intense revulsion penetrated the public mind. 


accusations which its enemies made against the order were 
to be substantiated. By the admissions of its leaders, the 
system of the Illuminati had the appearance of an organiza- 
tion devoted to the overthrow of religion and the state, a 
band of poisoners and forgers, an association of men of 
disgusting morals and depraved tastes. The publication of 
these documents amounted to nothing less than a sensation.^ 
New measures were forthwith adopted by the government. 
Leading representatives of the order, whose names ap- 
peared in the telltale documents, were placed under arrest 
and formally interrogated. Some of these, like the treas- 
urer, Hertel, met the situation with courage and dignity, 
and escaped with no further punishment than a warning to 
have nothing to do with the organization in the future 
under fear of graver consequences.^ Others, like the pol- 
troon Mandl,* adopted the course of making monstrous 
" revelations " concerning the objects and practices of the 
order. Still others, like Massenhausen, against whom the 
charge of poison-mixing was specifically lodged,* sought 
safety in flight. 

As a final blow against the devastated order, on August 

' Other secret documents of the order were seized by the police in a 
search of the quarters of Baron Bas.sus, whose membership in the order 
on account of his close friendship with Zwack, brought him under the 
government's suspicion. The police visitation referred to yielded no 
very important result, apart from establishing more solidly the gov- 
ernment's claim that the order had not obeyed the first edict. The 
papers seized in this instance were published by the government under 
the title, Nachtrag von weiteren OriginaUchriften . . . Zwei Ahtheilungen, 
Munich, 1787. 

2 Forestier, pp. 504 et seq. 

' Mandl, in the most cowardly fashion, charged the order with un- 
mentionable practices. He seems to have been the Judas in the order's 
inner circle. Cf. Forestier, pp. 505 et seq. Cf. Engel, pp. 3131 et seq. 

* Massenhausen was Ajax in the order. The papers seized by the 
police identified him as one of Weishaupt's intimates. 


16, 1787, the duke of Bavaria launched his third and last 
edict against the system.^ The presentments of the former 
interdicts were reemphasized, and in addition, to give 
maximum force to the sovereign's will, criminal process, 
without distinction of person, dignity, state, or quality, was 
ordered against any Illuminatus who should be discovered 
continuing the work of recruiting. Any so charged and 
found guilty were to be deprived of their lives by the sword ; 
while those thus recruited were to have their goods confis- 
cated and themselves to be condemned to perpetual banish- 
ment from the territories of the duke.^ Under the same 
penalties of confiscation and banishment, the members of 
the order, no matter under what name or circumstances, 
regular or irregular, they should gather, were forbidden to 
assemble as lodges.^ 

The end of the order was at hand. So far as the situa- 
tion within Bavaria was concerned, the sun of the lUumi- 
nati had already set.* It remained for the government to 
stretch forth its hand as far as possible, to deal with those 
fugitives who, enjoying the protection of other govern- 
ments, might plot and contrive to rebuild the ruined system. 
Accordingly, Zwack, who had sought asylum first in the 

' The " revelations '' of Mandl appear to have been immediately re- 
sponsible for the edict. Cf. Forestier, p. 507. 

2 Engel, op. cit., p. 280. 

' " Unter der nemlichen confiscations — und relegations Straf werden 
die illuminaten Logen, sie mogen gleich auf diesen oder anderen Namen 
umgetauft seyn, ebenfalls verbothen, worauf man auch allenthalben gute 
Spehr' [iSpaher] bestellen, und die Gesellschaften, welche entweder in 
Wirth — oder Privathausern mit versperrten Thiiren oder sonst auf 
verdachtige Weise gehalten werden, als wahre Logen behandeln lassen, 
und die so leer als gewohnliche Ausrede, das es nur ehrliche Com- 
pagnien von guten Freunden sind, zumal von jenen, welche sich des 
Illuminatismi und der Freygeisterei vorhin schon suspect gemacht haben, 
nicht annehmen wird " Quoted by Engel, p. 280. 

■* Forestier, op. cit., p. 509. 


court of Zweibriicken and had later obtained ofificial posi- 
tion in the principality of Salm-Kyburg, was summoned by 
the duke of Bavaria to return to that country. The sum- 
mons was not accepted/ but the activities of Zwack as a 
member of the Illuminati, as the event proved, were over. 
Count (Baron) Montgelas, whose services on behalf of the 
order do not appear to have been significant, but who, upon 
the publication of the correspondence seized in the residence 
of Zwack, had likewise sought the protection of the duke of 
Zweibriicken, found the favor of that sovereign sufficient 
to save him from the power of the Bavarian monarch.^ 
As for Weishaupt, whose originary relation to the order 
the Bavarian government had discovered in the secret cor- 
respondence just referred to, his presence in Gotha, outside 
Bavarian territory but in close proximity to the Bavarian 
possessions, added greatly to the concern of Carl Theodore.^ 
Efforts were made by the latter to counteract any possible 
influence he might exert to rehabilitate the Illuminati system.* 
They were as futile as they were unnecessary. Broken in 
spirit, making nO' effort to regain the kingdom which his van- 
ity insisted he had lost, contenting himself with the publica- 
tion of various apologetic writings," permitted for a consid- 

1 Forestier, op. cit., pp. 511 et seq. Cf. Engel, op. cit., pp. 378 et seq. 
^ Ibid., p. 369. Cf. Forestier, pp. 511 et seq. 

2 Ibid., p. £12. 

^ Ibid., pp. 512 et seq. An effort to secure the extradition of 
Weishaupt was defeated by an appeal to Duke Ernst. Cf. Ejigel, 
pp. 231 et seq. 

^The most significant of these were the following: Einleitung su 
meiner Apologie, 17S7; Bemerkungen uher einige Originalschriften, 
published soon after the former; Das verbesserte System der Illumi- 
naten mit alien seinen Graden Einrichtungen, also soon after the first 
mentioned work; Kurze Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten, 1787; 
Nachtrag aiir Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten, 1787. 


erable period to enjoy the bounty of his generous patron, 
Duke Ernst of Gotha, he sank slowly into obscurity/ 

As for the fortunes of the order outside of Bavaria, the 
measures adopted by the government of that country proved 
decisive. Here and there, especially in the case of Bode,^ a 
Saxon lUuminatus, efforts were made to galvanize the ex- 
piring spirit of the order, but wholly without result. 

Bibliographical Note: The amount of literature, chiefly polemical in 
character, which has sprung up about the subject of the European II- 
luminati is astonishingly large. Wolfstieg, Bihliographie der Freimaure- 
rischen Literatur, vol. ii, pp. 971-979, lists ninety-six separate titles of 
principal works, not counting translations, new editions, etc. In the 
same volume (pp. 979-982) he lists the titles of one hundred and four- 
teen "kleinere Schriften". In addition, he also lists (ibid., p. 982) 
three titles of books occupied with the statutes of the order, and the 
titles of five principal works devoted to the order's ritual (ibid., p. 983) , 
together with the titles of nine smaller works likewise occupied (ibid.). 
No student penetrates far into the study of the general topic without 
being made aware that not only were contemporary apologists and 
hostile critics stirred to a fierce heat of literary expression, but that a 
swarm of historians, mostly of inferior talents, have been attracted 
to the subject. 

In view of the thoroughgoing work which bibliographers like Wolf- 
stieg have performed, no necessity arises to repeat the task. For the 
benefit of the student who may wish to acquaint himself at first hand 
with the principal sources of information respecting the order, the 
following abbreviated list has been compiled. For convenience the 
titles are grouped in three principal divisions. 
I. Apologetic writings. 

Weishaupt, Apologie der Illuminaten, Frankfort and Leipzig, 1786. 

" Vollstdndige Geschichte der Verfolgung der Illuminaten 

in Bayern, I, Frankfort and Leipzig, 1786. 

" Das verbesserte System der Illuminaten mit alien seinen 

Graden und Einrichtungen, Frankfort and Leipzig, 

" Kurze Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten, Frankfort 

and Leipzig, 1787. 

• A sympathetic and moving account of the last years of Weishaupt's 
life appears in Engel, op. cit., pp. 380-402. 
2 Forestier, op. cit., pp. 543 et seq. 


Nachtrag zur Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten, Frank- 
fort and Leipzig, 1787. 
Bassus, Vorstellung denen hohen Standeshduptern der Erlauchten 

Republik Graubunden, Nuremberg, 1788. 
Knigge, Philo's endliche Erkldrung und Antwort auf verschiedene 
Anforderungen und Fragen, Hanover, 1788. 

II. Documents of the order, published by the Bavarian government 
or otherwise, and hostile polemics. 

Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordeni, Munich, 1787. 

Nachtrag von iveiteren Originalschriften, Munich, 1787. 

Der dchte Illuminat, oder die wahren, unverbesserten Rituale der 

Illuminaten, E'dessa (Frankfort-on-the-Main), 1788. 
Cosandey, Renner, and Griinberger, Drei tnerkwiirdige Aussagen 

die innere Einrichtung des Illuminatenordens, 'Munich, 1786. 
Same (with Utzschneider), Grosse Absichten des Ordens der 

Illuminaten mit Nachtrag, I, II, III, Munich, 1786. 
Der neuesten Arbeiten des Spartacus und Philo, Munich, 1793. 
Illuminatus Dirigens, oder Schottischer Ritter. Ein Pendant, 

etc., Munich, 1794. 

III. Historical treatments of the precise character and significance of 
the order. 

Mounier, De I'inAuence attribute aux philosophes, aux franc- 
magons et aux illumines, sur la revolution de France, 
Tiibingen, 1801. 

Mounier, J. J., On the Influence attributed to Philosophers, Free- 
masons, and to the Illuminati, on the Revolution of France. 
. . . Translated from the Manuscript, and corrected under the 
inspection of the author, by I. Walker, London, 1801. 

Engel, Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens, Berlin, 1906. 

Forestier, Les Illumines de Baviere et la Franc-Magonnerie alle- 
mande, Paris, 1915. 


Although the Order of the Illuminati was dead, the world 
had yet to reckon with its specter. So intense and wide- 
spread was the fear which the order engendered, so clearly 
did the traditionalists of the age see in its clientele the 
welding together into a secret machine of war of the most 
mischievous and dangerous of those elements which were 
discontented with the prevailing establishments of religion 


and civil government, that it was impossible that its shadow 
should pass immediately/ 

The emergence of the order had attracted public attention 
so abruptly and sharply, and its downfall had been so violent 
and so swift, that public opinion lacked time to adjust itself 
to the facts in the case. In Bavaria, particularly, the ene- 
mies of the order were unable to persuade themselves that 
the machinations of the Illuminati could safely be regarded 
as wholly of the past.^ The documents of the order were ap- 
pealed to, to supply proof that its leaders had made delib- 
erate calculations against the day of possible opposition and 
temporary disaster and with satanic cunning had made their 
preparations to wring victory out of apparent defeat.* Be- 
sides, the depth of the government's suspicions and hostility 
was such that additional, though needless measures of state * 
kept very much alive in that country the haunting fear of 
the continued existence of the order. 

' " Es muss die Furcht vor dem verschrieenen lUuminatismus geradezu 
wie ein Druck in der Luft gehangen haben, denn der Orden selbst 
existierte in seiner festeren Organisation schon lange nicht mehr, als 
sich die Gespensterfurcht vor ihm in so allgemeiner Weise breit 
machte.'' (Engel, op. cit., p. 425.) 

2 Forestier, op. cit, p. 613. 

2 Ibid., pp. 613 et seq. 

*As late as November 15, 1790, incited thereto by the priest Frank, 
the duke of Bavaria proclaimed a new interdict against the order. 
The threat of death as a punishment for membership in the order or 
activity on its behalf was again imposed. Cf. Engel, p. 371 ; Forestier, 
pp. 614 et seq. The following year the police of the city of Munich 
compiled a list of ninety-one names (Forestier gives the number as 
ninety-two, cf. ibid., p. 615), of members of the order who were sup- 
posed to be still active, and proceeded to apply the policy of banishing 
those who were held to be most dangerous. A number suffered in 
this way. Cf. Engel, pp. 37i et seq. Cf. Forestier, pp. 615 et seq. 
A spirit of reckless denunciation ruled in Munich, because of which 
no suspected man's person was safe. Not until the death of Carl 
Theodore, in 1799, did this period of hostility to the order on the part 
of the Bavarian government finally come to an end. 


Outside of Bavaria numerous factors contributed to 
create the same general impression in the public mind. 
Among these were the efforts of the Rosicrucians to play 
upon the fears that the Illuminati had awakened, the mistaken 
connections which, in the Protestant world, were commonly 
made between the members of the Order of the Illuminati 
and the representatives and promoters of the Aufkl'drung, 
and the emergence of the German Union. To each of these 
in turn a word must be devoted. 

Following the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, mem- 
bers of that order in considerable numbers, attracted by the 
rapid growth and the pretentious occultism of the Rosicru- 
cians,^ had united with the latter system.^ The result was 
the infusion of a definite strain of clericalism into the order 
of the Rosicrucians and, in consequence, a renewal of the 
attack upon the Illuminati. In Prussia, where the Rosicru- 
cians had firmly established themselves in Berlin, King 
Frederick William II was under the influence of Wollner, 
one of his ministers and a leading figure in the Rosicrucian 

'A reorganization of the Rosicrucian system had taken place in 1767, 
which stressed the antiquity, sanctity, and superior character of the 
order in its relations to the rest of the Masonic fraternity. According 
to their claims, the Rosicrucians alone were able to explain the 
hieroglyphics, symbols, and allegories of Freemasonry. The structure 
of the order was greatly elaborated at the time indicated, and thus 
supplementing its traditional appeal to the thirst for alchemy and 
magic, the order grew rapidly. Cf. Forestier, pp. 187-191. Cf. Bngel, 
p. 240. 

^ Vehse, in his Geschichte des Preussischen Hofes, vol. ii, p. 35, puts 
the matter thus : " In den Landern nun, wo sie aufgehoben waren, 
brauchten die Exjesuiten das Mittel in den geheimen Gesellschaften 
Aufnahme zu suchen. Sie bildeten hier eine schleichende und deshalb 
um so sichere Opposition gegen alle Aufklarungstendenzen. In dera 
Freimaurerorden stifteten sie die sogenannten ' inneren Systeme.' Hier 
waren sie als Proselytenmacher ganz in der Stille tatig und arbeiteten 
mit Macht darauf hin, das obscurante Pfaffehtum und die despotische 
Hierarchic in beiden Konfessionen, im Protestantismus sowohl als 
Katholizismus wieder herzustellen." (Quoted by Engel, pp. 241 et seq.) 


system.^ Through the latter's relations with Frank, who at 
the time stood at the head of the Rosicrucian order in Bava- 
ria, the Prussian monarch was easily persuaded that the 
operations of the Illuminati had not only been extended to 
his own territories, but throughout all Germany.^ Encour- 
aged by Wollner, Frederick William took it upon himself 
to warn neighboring monarchs respecting the peril which 
he believed threatened, a course which bore at least one 
definite result in the measures taken by the elector of Saxony 
to investigate the situation at Leipzig where, according to 
the king of Prussia, a meeting of the chiefs of the Illuminati 
had been effected.^ Thus the notion that the order of the 
Illuminati was still in existence was accorded the sanction 
of influential monarchs. 

The disposition of orthodox Protestants to confuse the 
advocates of rationalism with the membership of the Illu- 
minati finds its suggestion of plausibility at a glance and 
stands in little need of specific historical proof. The gen- 
eral efifect of the undermining of traditional faiths, for 
which the dominating influences of the period of the Auf- 
klarung were responsible, was to create the impression 

1 Forestier, op. cit., p. 191. Engel, op. cit., p. 242. 

^ Ibid., p. 242. 

' Ibid., pp. 247 et seq. Forestier brings into connection with this 
effort of the king of Prussia to check the supposed operations of the 
Illuminati, a further reproach which came upon the order on account of 
the course pursued by the Rosicrucians in spreading the report in the 
Masonic world that the Eclectic Alliance, an ill-fated effort to tinite 
and dominate German Freemasonry, launched in 1783, was a survival 
of the Order of the Illuminati. The unpopularity and suspicion which 
the Eclectic Alliance incurred were due in part to its attempts to 
eliminate the high grades of Masonry, but more especially to the 
charges made against it by representatives of rival Masonic systems 
that it had at heart the undermining of the Christian religion. Cf. 
ibid., pp. 617 et seq., 383-388. The Illuminati had had affiliations with 
the Eclectic Alliance, and hence a certain justification had been given 
for the accusations which were transferred from the former to the latter. 


among the more simple-minded and credulous elements in 
the Protestant world that a vast combination of forces was 
at work, all hostile to the Christian religion and all striving 
to supplant faith by reason. So vast and significant a move- 
ment of thought naturally enough tended to engender vari- 
ous suspicions, and among these is to be numbered the naive 
conviction that the order which the Bavarian government 
had felt compelled to stamp out, on account of its alleged 
impiety and its immoral and anarchical principles, was but 
a local expression of the prevailing opposition to the estab- 
lished systems and orthodox doctrines of the age.* 

The excitement occasioned by the appearance of the Ger- 
man Union (Die Deutsche Union), on account of its defi- 
nite connections with one of the former leaders ^ of Weis- 
haupt's system and the unsavory private character and 
avowed unscrupulous designs of its originator, gave still 
more specific force to the Illuminati legend. Charles Fred- 
erick Bahrdt,^ a disreputable doctor of theology, in 1787, at 

' The loose use of the term " Illuminati " involved in these statements 
is only partially illustrated in the following comment of Mounier: 
"On a donne par derision la qualite d' Illuminis a tous les charlatans 
mystiques de ce siecle, a tous ceux qui s'occupent d'alchimie, de magie 
et de cabale, de revenans, de relations avec des esprits intermediaires, 
tels que les Saint-Germain, les Cagliostro, les Swedenborg, les Rose- 
croix et les Martinistes : mais il a existe une autre espece d'illumines 
en AUemagne" (i. e., Weishaupt's system). {De I'iniiuence attribuee 
aux philosophes, aux franc-magons et aux illumines, sur la revolution 
de France, p. 169.) Not these systems alone, but the representatives of 
the diffused forces of the Enlightenment were appointed to share the 
mantle of the ambiguous term. 

' Baron Knigge. In responding to Bahrdt's appeal to assist him in 
working out the system of the German Union, Knigge violated the 
pledge he had made to the Bavarian government not to concern him- 
self again with secret organizations. For his indiscretion he paid the 
penalty of an unpleasant notoriety. Cf. Forestier, p. 629. 

• Bahrdt's career was objectionable from almost every point of view. 
He had been first a pastor, and later a professor of sacred philology 
at the University of Leipzig. Here, as at Erfurt, the place of his 


Halle, proposed to reap advantage from the ruin of Weis^ 
haupt's system and to recruit among its former members the 
supporters of a new league, organized to accomplish the en- 
lightenment of the people principally by means of forming 
in every city secret associations of men ^ who were to keep in 
correspondence with similar groups of their brethren and 
who, by the employment of reading-rooms, were to famil- 
iarize the people with those writings which were specially 
calculated to remove popular prejudices and superstitions, 
and to break the force of appeals to tradition. Further, 
these associations were to supply financial assistance to 
writers who enlisted in the Union's campaign, and to fill 
the palms of booksellers who for the sake of a bribe showed 
themselves willing to prevent the sale of the works of 
authors who withheld their cooperation.^ 

As an organization the German Union scarcely emerged 
from the stage of inception; but the absurd policy of pub- 
licity pursued by its founder gave to the project a wide air- 
ing and provoked hostile writings ^ that added immensely 

next professional labors, his dissolute conduct involved him in public 
scandals which lost him his post. In 1771 he went to Giessen as 
preacher and professor of theology. Later, after numerous changes of 
location and in the character of his educational activity, he took refuge 
at Halle, where he conducted courses in rhetoric, eloquence, declama- 
tion, and ethics. A man of low tastes, his life was without dignity and 
solid convictions. Cf. Forestier, pp. 624 et seq. ; Mounier, pp. 201 et seq. ; 
P. Tschackert, in Herzog-iHauck, Realencyklopiidie, 3. Aufl., ii, (1897), 
PP- 357-359- 

' These associations were to be divided into six grades : Adolescent, 
Man, Elder, Mesopolite, Diocesan, and Superior. A ritual was pro- 
vided and the low initiation fee of one thaler imposed. The system, 
never fully developed, conveys the impression of crudeness and 

2 Mounier, pp. 201 et seq. Forestier makes the added suggestion 
that Bahrdt saw in the formation of the Union a chance to further his 
own literary ambitions and pecuniary interests. Cf. Forestier, p. 627. 

3 Ibid., pp. 629, 630. 


to the importance of the matter. The new system was 
boldly denounced as continuing the operations of the odious 
order dissolved in Bavaria, with a shrewd change of tactics 
which substituted " irmocent " reading-rooms for the novi- 
tiate of Weishaupt's organization, and thus, it was urged, 
the way was opened for the exertion of a really powerful 
influence upon the thought of the German people.^ 

By such means, and in such widely diverse and irrational 
ways, the popular belief in the survival of the defunct Order 
of the Illuminati was kept alive and supplied with definite 
points of attachment ; but it remained for the French Revo- 
lution, in all the rapidity and vastness of its developments 
and in the terrifying effects which its more frightful aspects 
exercised upon its observers, to offer the most exciting sug- 
gestions and to stimulate to the freest play the imaginations 
of those who were already persuaded that the secret asso- 
ciations that plagued Bavaria still lived to trouble the earth.^ 

The supposed points of connection between the Order of 
the Illuminati and the French Revolution were partly tan- 
gible, though decidedly elusive,^ but much more largely of 
the nature of theories framed to meet the necessities of a 
case which in the judgment of dilettante historians posi- 
tively required the hypothesis of a diabolical conspiracy 
against thrones and altars (i. e., the civil power and the 
church), though the labors of Hercules might have to be 
exceeded in putting the same to paper. 

1 Ibid. 

- Momiier, p. 186. 

' " Die merkwiirdigste, aber auch gleichzeitig groteskeste Beschuldi- 
gung, die jemals dern Illiminatenorden nachgesagt worden ist, war die, 
dass er die franzosische Revolution zur Explosion gebracht habe. Es 
gehorte recht viel Kombinationsvermogen und Taschenspielerei in der 
Logik dazu, um den Beweis fur diese wundersame Behauptung zusam- 
menzuleimen, aber in jener Zeit wurde tatsachlich alles geglaubt, sobald 
es sich darum handelte, dem Illuminatismus eine neue Schurkerei auf- 
zuhalsen." (Engel, pp. 402, 404. Cf. Mounier, pp. 124, 215 et seq.) 


Of the exiguous resources of interpreters of the Revolu- 
tion who made serious efforts to trace its impious and anar- 
chical principles and its savage enormities to their lair in 
the lodges of the Illuminati, the following are perhaps the 
only ones worthy of note. 

The public discussion of the affairs and principles of 
Weishaupt's organization, to which attention has already 
been called in various connections, continued with unabated 
zeal even beyond the close of the eighteenth century. At 
the very hour when the Revolution was shocking the world 
by its lapse from its orignal self-control into its horrible 
massacres, execution of monarchs, guillotine-lust, and fero- 
cious struggles between parties, new pamphlets and reviews 
bearing on the demolished order's constitution and objects 
found their way into the channels of public communication. 
Conspicuous among these were the following : Die neuesten 
Arbeiten des Spartacus und Philo in dem Illuminaten Orden, 
jetzt zum ersten Mai gedruckt und zur Beherzigung bei 
gegenw'drtigen Zeitlduften herausgegeben,^ and Illuminatus 
Dirigens oder Schottischer Ritter," announced as a contin- 
uation of the former. These works, published at the insti- 
gation of the authorities at Munich, attracted public atten- 
tion anew to the most extreme religious and social doc- 
trines ^ of the order. Thus the revolutionary character of 
Illuminism received heavy emphasis* synchronously with 

' Published anonymously at Munich, in 1794. 

^ Title in full : Illuminatus Dirigens oder Schottischer Ritter. Ein 
Pendant zu der nicht unwichtigen Schrift: Die neuesten Arbeiten, etc., 
Munich, 1794. 

' The grades of Priest and Regent were reproduced in the first of 
these two works. The most objectionable principles of the order were 
reserved to these two grades. 

* Forestier brings into connection with the publication of these 
pamphlets the appearance of certain brochures of Knigge's, wherein 
he espoused with great ardor the cause of the French 'Revolutionists. 
The special import of this requires no comment. Cf. ibid., pp. 636 et seq. 


contemporary events of the utmost significance to the im- 
perilled cause of political and religious conservatism. 

In Austria an independent literary assault upon Illumin- 
ism developed. At Vienna, Leopold Hoffman,^ editor of 
the Wiener Zeitschrift, fully convinced that the Order of 
the Illuminati had exercised a baneful effect upon Free- 
masonry, to which he was devoted, abandoned his chair of 
language and German literature at the University of Vienna 
to dedicate his talents and his journal to the overthrow of 
Illuminated Freemasonry.^ Finding a zealous collaborator 
in a certain Dr. Zimmerman, a physician of Hannover, a 
radical turned an extreme conservative by the developments 
of the French Revolution, the two labored energetically to 
stigmatize the Illuminati as the secret cause of the political 
explosion in France. 

The discontinuance of the Wiener Zeitschrift in 1793 by 
no means marked the end of the campaign. A deluge of 
pamphlets ^ had been precipitated, all based upon the as- 
sumption that the order Weishaupt had founded had sub- 
sided only in appearance. Declamation did not wait upon 
evidence. It was alleged that the lower grades of the Illu- 
minati had been dissolved, but the superior grades were 
still practised. Under cover of correspondence, recruits of 
the system were now being sought. Freemasonry was being 
subjugated by Illuminism only that it might be forced to 
serve the ends of its conqueror. Journalists partial to the 
interests of the Aufklarung had been enlisted for the same 
purpose. The German Union was thus only one of the en- 

' Hofltman had himself been a member of the Illuminati, at Vienna. 
Cf. Forestier, op. cit., p. 646. 

2 The date was early in 1792 ( !). Cf. ibid., p. 646. 

' Forestier, whose treatment at this point is characteristically thorough, 
gives the titles, or otherwise refers to not less than fourteen pamphlets 
or brochures, in addition to numerous magazine articles. Cf. ibid., 
pp. 649-658. 


terprises fostered by the lUuminati to further their designs. 
The dogmas of the order had been spread secretly in France 
by means of the clubs of that country, and the effectiveness 
of the propaganda was being vividly demonstrated in the 
horrors of the Revolution. Unless German princes should 
promptly adopt rigorous measures against the various 
agents and enterprises of the order in their territories, they 
might confidently expect similar results to follow. '^ 

Much more of like character was foisted upon the read- 
ing public. As for contemporary historians who searched 
for specific evidence of an alliance between the lUuminati 
of Germany and the Revolutionists in France, their energies 
were chiefly employed in the development of a clue which 
had as its kernel the supposed introduction of lUuminism 
into France at the hands of the French revolutionary leader, 
Mirabeau, and the German savant. Bode.'' Unfolded, this 
view of the case may be stated briefly as follows : Mirabeau, 
during his residence at Berlin, in the years 1786 and 1787, 
came into touch with the lUuminati of that city and was 
received as an adept into the order. Upon his return to 
Paris he made the attempt to introduce Illuminism into 
that particular branch of Masonry of which he was also a 
member, the Philalethes or Amis Reuflis.^ To give force 
to his purpose, he called upon the lUuminati in Berlin to 

1 Forestier, op. cit., pp. 649-658. 

' Johann Joachim Christoph Bode (1730-1793), by no means a dis- 
tinguished representative of the German literati of his period, occupied 
a fairly important role in the history of the Order of the lUuminati. 
After Weishaupt's flight to Ingolstadt he was the most active leader in 
the ranks of the persecuted order. Cf. Forestier, pp. 543 et seq. 
He was profoundly interested in 'Masonry. In 1790 he projected a 
plan for the union of all the German lodges of Masonry. The effort 
proved futile. 

' The Philalethes were conspicuous among French Freemasons for 
their unequalled devotion to alchemy and theurgy. The order was 
founded about 1773. 


send to his assistance two talented and influential represen- 
tatives of the order. The men chosen by the lUuminati- 
circle in Berlin, Bode and von dem Busche/ arrived in 
Paris in the early summer of 1787. To conceal their pur- 
pose from prying eyes, they spread the report that they had 
come from Germany to investigate the subjects of magnet- 
ism and the extent of the influence exerted by the Jesuits 
upon the secret societies of the age. Meantime, the lodges 
of the Philalethes, and through them the French Masonic 
lodges in general, were inoculated with the principles of 
Illuminism. French Freemasonry thus became committed 
to the project of forcing the overthrow of thrones and 
altars. So transformed, these lodges created secret com- 
mittees who busied themselves with plans for the precipita- 
tion of a great revolutionary movement. To these com- 
mittees belonged the subsequent leaders and heroes of the 
French Revolution — de Rochefoucauld, Condorcet, Petion, 
the Duke of Orleans (Grand Master of French Masonry), 
Camille-Desmoulins, Danton, Lafayette, de Leutre, Fauchet, 
et al. Through these and their associates the connection be- 
tween the lodges of Illuminated French Freemasonry and 
the powerful political clubs of the country was effected. 
Thus Illuminism was able to inspire Jacobinism. Finally, 
on the 14 of July, 1789, the revolutionary mine was sprung, 
and the great secret of the Illuminati became the possession 
of the world.^ 

' Staack, in his Der Triumph der Philosophie im 18. lahrhundert 
(1803), vol. ii, p. 276, represents von dem Busche as a military official 
in the service of the Dutch government, and as a member of Weis- 
haupt's order. Mounier (p. 212) refers to him as a major in the 
service of the landgrave of 'Hesse-Darmstadt. His figure is of no 
historical importance apart from its chance connection with the Illu- 
minati legend. 

' This bizarre and preposterous explanation of the genesis of the 
French Revolution was a favorite with contemporary German and 
French writers of the special-pleader type. It was used, as we shall 


At every point this fantastic exposition suffered the fatal 
defect of a lack of historical proof. Even the specific asser- 
tions of its inventors which were most necessary to their 
hypothesis were disproved by the facts brought to light by 
more cautious and unbiased investigators who followed. 
E. g., the idea of Mirabeau's intimate connection with the 
program of the Order of the Illuminati and his pro- 
found faith in it as the best of all instruments for the 
work of social amelioration is rendered untenable the mo- 
ment the rash and unrepublican temper of his spirit isf called 
seriously to mind.^ Again, the real object of Bode's visit 

see later, by both IRobison and Barruel in their discussions of the role 
played by the Illuminati in the great French political and social debacle. 
Its classic statement was made a few years later by Staack, in his Der 
Triumph der Philosophie-im 18. Jahrhundert, vol. ii, pp. 348 et seq. 

A more silly exposition of the relation of the Illuminati to the 
French Revolution is that found in the fabulous tale related by the 
notorious Sicilian impostor, Giuseppe Balsamo (" Count " Alessandro 
Cagliostro), who, in 1790, having been arrested at Rome and interro- 
gated by officials respecting his revolutionary principles, attempted to 
divert suspicion by recounting experiences he claimed to have had 
with two chiefs of the Illuminati, at Mitau, near Frankfort, Germany. 
Revelations had been made to him at that time (1780), he alleged, to 
the effect that the Order of the Illuminati was able to number 20,000 
lodges, scattered through Europe and America; that its agents were 
industriously operating in all European courts, particularly, being 
lavishly financed with funds drawn from the immense treasures of the 
order; and that the next great blow of the order was to be delivered 
against the government of France. Cf. Sierke, Schwarmer und 
Schwindler zu Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 407 et seq. Both Engel 
(pp. 420 et seq.) and Forestier (pp. 658 et seq.) devote an unneces- 
sary amount of space to Cagliostro's foolish " revelations ". It is suf- 
ficient for our purpose to remark in passing that, in any case, Cagliostro 
was not discussing the affairs of Weishaupt's order, but the affairs of 
the Strict Observance whose growing credulity and occultism caused 
the term " Illuminati " sometimes to be applied to them. 

' " Ses principes etaient directement contraires a ceux des illumines ; 
il n'etait pas homme a placer ses esperances dans un intervalle de mille 
ans. II n'a jamais pense qu'un peuple put devenir assez vertueux pour 
se passer de lois et de magistrats. II a soutenu la vraie theorie de la 


to Paris, a matter of vital importance in the Illuminati- 
French Revolution hypothesis, was not to communicate 
Illuminism to French Freemasons, but to attend an assem- 
bly of representatives of the Philalethes, called to consider 
the results of an inquiry previously undertaken, respecting 
the occult interests and tendencies of that order. Convinced 
that that branch of French Masonry was yielding to an in- 
ordinate passion for the occult sciences, Bode had been pre- 
vailed upon by German 'Masons, von dem Busche ^ among 
the number, to make a journey to Paris to warn his French 
brethren of their mistake. A subsidiary personal interest 
in the newly-discovered " science " of animal magnetism ^ 
helped to form his decision to make the trip.* 

The much more important contention that the Illuminati 

balance des pouvoirs, et combattu le despotisme populaire, toutes les 
fois que I'amour de la celebrite et I'interet de son ambition ne le fais- 
aient pas agir contre sa propre doctrine, et les illumines n'auraient 
ete capables, ni d'ajouter a ses lumieres, ni de changer sa theorie, ni 
de corriger ses vices." (Mounier, pp. 216 et seq^ This judgment of 
a sensible and impartial critic of the French Revolutien, first sub- 
mitted to the public in i8oi, is as valid now as then. 

' Without citing his authority, Forestier makes the statement that 
von dem Busche's interest in the reform of the debased order of the 
Philalethes led him not only to accompany Bode but to offer to pay 
his expenses. Cf. Forestier, p. 666. 

2 The theories and seances of the empiric, Mesmer, were greatly agitat- 
ing Paris at the time and attracting attention throughout Europe. 

3 Mounier, pp. 212 et seq. Cf. Forestier, pp. 664 et seq. While 
Bode was in Paris he kept in close correspondence with his German 
friend, Frau Hess, of Hirschberg. Engel, who made an examination 
of this correspondence in the Royal Library at Dresden, was unable 
to discover the slightest intimation that Bode's mind, while he was 
in Paris, was occupied with anything more revolutionary than the 
turning of the Philalethes away from their craze for alchemy, cabala, 
theosophy, and theurgy, or in Mesmer's theories. Cf. Engel, pp. 409- 
415. When Bode returned to Germany it is undeniable that he carried 
with him an unfavorable opinion of French Masonry. Cf. Forestier, 
p. 668. 


were instrumental in starting the French Revolution, shows 
a lack of historical perspective that either leaves out of 
account or obscures the importance of the economic, social, 
political, and religious causes, tangible and overt, though 
complex, that rendered the Revolution inevitable. 

Yet the legend of Illuminism as the responsible author of 
the French Revolution found numerous vindicators and in- 
terpreters,^ to the efforts of two of which, because of their 
intimate relation to the interests of the investigation in hand, 
our attention in the remainder of this chapter is to be con- 

In the year 1797 there appeared at Edinburgh, Scotland, 
a volume bearing the following title : Proofs of a Conspir- 
acy against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, 
carried on in the Secret Meetings of the Free Masons, Illu- 

' In addition to the two elaborated upon in the remainder of this 
chapter, the following are most worthy of note: Staack, Der Triumph 
der Philosophie im 18. Jahrhundert, vols, i, ii, 1803 (already noted) ; 
Proyard, Louis XVI et ses vertus aux prises avec la perversiti du 
Steele, Paris, 1808 (4 vols.) ; De Malet, Recherches politiques et his- 
toriques qui prouvent I'existence d'une secte revolutionnaire, son 
antique origine, ses moyens, ainsi que son but, et devoilent entierement -fi* 

I'unique cause de la Revolution Frangaise, Paris, 1817; De Langres, Des "^^ pif* 
Societes Secretes en Allemagne et dans d'autres contrees, de la Secte '** 
des Illumines, du Tribunal Secret, de I'assassinat de Kotzebue, 1819; 
Le Couteulx, Les Sectes et Societes politiques et religieuses, Paris, 
1863; Deschamps, Les Societes Secretes et la Sojciite, vols, i, ii, iii, 
Avignon, 1874-1876. As late as 1906, in an article in the Edinburgh 
Review of July of that year, Una Birch traversed much of the ground 
covered thus far in this and the preceding chapter and, on the theory 
that an event as spontaneous ( ?) as the French Revolution must have 
originated in a definite coordination of ideas and doctrines, reaffirmed 
the general notion that the Masonic lodges of France, having been 
inoculated with the doctrines of the Illuminati, became the principal 
points of associative agitation for, and thus the direct cause of, the 
French Revolution. This essay may also be found in the volume of 
essays entitled, Secret Societies and the French Revolution (London 
and New York, 1911), by the same author. 

minati, and Reading Societies.^ Its author, John Robison/ 

' Later editions of this work, which in their number and geographical 
extent strongly suggest the degree of interest the subject had for the 
reading public, appeared as follows: second edition, London, 1797; 
third edition, London, 1798; fourth edition, London and New York, 
1798; a French translation, London, 1798-99 (2 vols.) ; a German 
translation, Konigslutter and Hamburg, 1800; a Dutch translation, 
Dordrecht (n. A). See Wolfstieg, Bibliographic der Freimaurerischen 
Literatur, vol. i, pp. 192, 193. 

' Robison was a mathematician, scientific writer, and lecturer in the 
field of natural philosophy, of considerable ability and distinction. 
The son of a Glasgow merchant, he was born in Scotland in 1739. 
He received the benefits of a thorough education, graduating from 
Glasgow University in 1756. The connections he enjoyed throughout 
his life were of the best. Subsequent to his graduation he became 
tutor to the son of Sir Charles Knowles, the English admiral, and later 
was appointed by the government to service in the testing out at sea 
of the newly completed chronometer of John Harrison, the horologist. 
Still later he went to Russia as private secretary to Sir Charles. 
While in Russia he was called to the chair of mathematics established 
in connection with the imperial sea-cadet corps of nobles. Abandon- 
ing this post, he returned to Scotland, and in 1773 became professor 
of natural philosophy in Edinburgh University, lecturing on such sub- 
jects as hydro-dynamics, astronomy, optics, electricity, and magnetism. 
His distinction in this general field seems clearly demonstrated by the 
fact that he was called upon to contribute to the third edition of the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica articles on seamanship, the telescope, optics, 
waterworks, resistance to fluids, electricity, magnetism, music, etc., 
as well as by the fact that when the Royal iSociety of Edinburgh was 
organized under royal charter in 1783, Robison was elected general sec- 
retary of that distinguished organization, an office he continued to 
hold until within a few years of his death. The versatility of the man 
is further evidenced by the fact that he was deeply interested in music, 
attaining the mastery of several instruments, and in the writing of 
verse. His reputation was not confined to Great Britain. In 1790 the 
College of New Jersey (Princeton University) conferred upon him 
the degree of LL.D. {Cf. General Catalogue of the College of New 
Jersey, 1746-1896, p. 177. The Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 
xlix, p. 58, incorrectly gives the date for the bestowal of this degree 
as 1798.) Later, his alma mater, Glasgow University, bestowed upon 
him a like honor. 

In addition to his encyclopaedia articles and his book on the lUumi- 
nati, Robison edited and published the lectures of I>r. Black, the chemist, 
and the following scientific works, the product of his own intellectual 


an English savant and Freemason, whose position in the 
academic world entitled his statements to respect, had had 
his curiosity regarding the character and effects of conti- 
nental Freemasonry greatly stimulated by a stray volume 
of the German periodical, Religions Begebenheiten,^ which 
came under his notice in 1795, and in which he found ex- 
positions of Masonic systems and schisms so numerous and 
so seriously maintained by their advocates as to create deep 
wonderment in his mind.^ Bent upon discovering both the 

activity: Outlines of a Course of Lectures on Mechanical Philosophy, 
Edinburgh, 1797, and, Elements of Mechanical Philosophy, Edinburgh, 
1804. The latter was intended to be the initial volume of a series, but 
its successors were not forthcoming. A posthumous work of four 
volumes entitled, A System of Mechanical Philosophy, with Notes by 
David Brewster, LL.D., was published at Edinburgh in 1822. The 
death of Robison occurred in 1805. (For the material incorporated in 
the foregoing the writer is chiefly indebted to the Dictionary of National 
Biography, vol. xlix, pp. 57, 58, and to casual references in the 
Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vols, i-v.) 

1 " Die Neuesten Religionsbegebenheiten mit unpartheyischen Anmer- 
kungen mit Beihiilfe mehrerer von H. M. G. Koster, Professor in 
Giessen, herausgegeben Jg. 1-20 Giessen, 1778^7 verfolgten gleichfalls 
den Zweck, von den wichtigsten Vorfallen aus der Religionsgeschichte 
der Gegenwart eine deutliche, griindliche und niitzliche Beschreibung 
zu liefern, doch beschrankten sie sich dabei vornehmlich auf Deutsch- 
land und richteten sich in erster Linie an Laien und Nichttheologen " 
(Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopadie, 3rd ed., vol. xxiv, Leipzig, 1913, 
p. 673). 

* Though a Mason, Robison was by no means an ardent supporter 
of Freemasonry. The English Masonic lodges with which he was ac- 
quainted impressed him as having no higher function than that of 
supplying " a pretext for passing an hour or two in a sort of decent 
conviviality, not altogether void of some rational occupation." He 
found the lodges on the continent, however, " matters of serious 
concern and debate." Cf. Proofs of a Conspiracy, etc., pp. I et seq. 
(The edition of Robison's book here as elsewhere referred to is the 
third [London] edition of 1798.) Robison professed to have visited 
lodges at Liege, Valenciennes, Brussels, Aix-la-'Chapelle, Berlin, 
Konigsberg, and St. Petersburg. Everywhere he found an elaboration 
of ritual, joined with a spirit of grave interest in the aflfairs of 
Freemasonry, which filled him with astonishment and seemed to call 
for explanation. Cf. ibid., pp. 2 et seq. 


occasion and the significance of this tangled mass, Robison 
obtained possession of other volumes of the periodical men- 
tioned ^ and set himself the task of elucidating the problem 
presented by Masonry's luxuriant growth and its power of 
popular appeal. 

The conclusions Robison came to are best stated in his 
own words : 

I have found that the covert of a Mason Lodge had been em- 
ployed in every country for venting and propagating senti- 
ments in religion and politics, that could not have circulated 
in public without exposing the author to great danger. I 
found, that this impunity had gradually encouraged men of 
licentious principles to become more bold, and to teach doc- 
trines subversive of all our notions of morality — of all our 
confidence in the moral government of the universe — of all our 
hopes of improvement in a future state of existence — and of all 
satisfaction and contentment with our present life, so long as 
we live in a state of civil subordination. I have been able 
to trace these attempts, made, through a course of fifty years, 
under the specious pretext of enlightening the world by the 

' Robison, op. cit., p. 7. Robison also made use of several of the works 
which the disturbances occasioned by the Bavarian lUuminati called 
forth on the continent. Conspicuous among these were the documents 
of the order published by the Bavarian government. Cf. ibid., pp. 133, 
185, 186, 205, etc. He also made use of Hoflfman's violently hostile 
sheet, the Wiener Zeitschrift. Cf. ibid., pp. 358, 393. Robison's 
knowledge of the German language was, however, far from perfect, 
as he himself freely admitted {Cf. ibid., pp. 14, 499), so that his 
handling of his sources must be viewed as neither capable nor com- 
plete. The meagerness of his resources is perhaps best illustrated in 
his treatment of the conspiracy which he assumed underlay the French 
Revolution. Such " proofs " as he made use of in this connection 
amounted to little more than the political manifestoes of certain secret 
lodges and clubs, fugitive revolutionary documents which chanced to 
blow across his path, current historical conjecture and gossip, etc. 
The whole was pieced together in the spirit of one who ventured to 
hope that his " scattered facts " might be of some service to his 
generation. {Cf. ibid., pp. 493-496.) 


torch of philosophy, and of dispelling the clouds of civil and 
religious superstition which keep the nations of Europe in 
darkness and slavery. I have observed these doctrines gradu- 
ally diffusing and mixing with all the different systems of Free 
Masonry; till, at last, AN ASSOCIATION HAS BEEN 
FORMED for the express purpose of ROOTING OUT ALL 
EUROPE. I have seen this Association exerting itself zeal- 
ously and systematically, till it has become almost irresistible : 
And I have seen that the most active leaders in the French 
Revolution were members of this Association, and conducted 
their first movements according to its principles, and by means 
of its instructions and assistance, formally requested and ob- 
tained : And, lastly, I have seen that this Association still exists, 
still works in secret, and that not only several appearances 
among ourselves show that its emissaries are endeavouring to 
propagate their detestable doctrines, but that the Association 
has Lodges in Britain corresponding with the mother Lodge at 
Munich ever since 1784. . . . The Association of which I have 
been speaking is the order of ILLUMINATI, founded, in 
1775 [sic], by Dr. Adam Weisbaupt, professor of Canon-law 
in the University of Ingolstadt, and abolished in 1786 by the 
Elector of Bavaria, but revived immediately after, under an- 
other name, and in a different form, all over Germany. It was 
again detected, and seemingly broken up; but it had by this 
time taken so deep root that it still subsists without being 
detected, and has spread into all the countries of Europe.^ 

The " proofs " to which Robison appealed to support 
these conclusions betrayed the same lack of critical mind " 

1 Robison, op. cit., pp. 10, 11, 15. 

"An illustration of the carelessness with which Robison handled his 
dates is found on pages 15 and 133 (c/. p. 103) of the Proofs of a 
Conspiracy, etc., in the matter of the date of the founding of the Order 
of the lUuminati. Far more serious in its reflection on the author's 


with which all the advocates of the Illuminati-French Revo- 
lution hypothesis are to be charged. Only the more signifi- 
cant elements are here brought under survey.^ 

That inclination for a multiplication of the degrees and 
an elaboration of the ceremonies of simple English Free- 
masonry which Robison found operative among French 
Freemasons from the beginning of the eighteenth century 
on/ had resulted in making the lodges attractive to those 
elements in France whose discontent over civil and ecclesias- 

lack of accuracy and insight is such looseness and general unsound- 
ness of treatment as permitted him to represent the Jesuits as fre- 
quenters of English and French Masonic lodges, while at the same time 
indicting the latter as fully committed to a free-thinking propaganda 
which sought nothing less than the eradication of religion, not to 
speak of its institutions. Cf. ibid., pp. 22 et seq. Robison's super- 
ficial explanation of the anticlericalism of Weishaupt might be cited 
as another illustration of the blundering method pursued in the book. 
Cf. ibid., pp. loi, 103 et seq. His weak and practically pointless digres- 
sion in order to find opportunity to comment on the educational pro- 
jects of Basedow will serve to illustrate the discursive quality in his 
work. Cf. ibid., 85 et seq. 

' Robison's exposition of the elements of uncontrolled curiosity and 
conjecture as elements in his purpose in writing the book is not with- 
out significance : " I must entreat that it be remembered that these 
sheets are not the work of an author determined to write a book. 
They were for the most part notes, which I took from books I had 
borrowed, that I might occasionally have recourse to them when 
occupied with Free Masonry, the first object of my curiosity. My 
curiosity was diverted to many other things as I went along, and 
when the Illuminati came in my way, I regretted the time I had 
thrown away on Free Masonry. (But, observing their connection, I 
thought that I perceived the progress of one and the same design. 
This made me eager to find out any remains of Weishaupt's Association. 
I was not surprised when I saw marks of its interference in the French 
Revolution.) In hunting for clearer proofs I found out the German 
Union — and, in fine, the whole appeared to be one great and wicked 
project, fermenting and working over all Europe." (Ibid., pp. 
493 et seq.) Encouraged by his friends, Robison " set about collecting 
my [his] scattered facts.'' (Ibid., p. 494.) 

'' Ibid., pp. 28 et seq. 


tical oppressions had grown great.' Under the pressure im- 
posed upon private and public discussion by the state and by 
the church, men of letters, avocats cm parlement, unbene- 
ficed abbes, impecunious youths, and self-styled philosophers 
thronged the halls of the lodges, eager to take advantage of 
the opportunity their secret assemblies afforded to discuss 
the most intimate concerns of politics and religion.^ Despite 
the vkride contrariety of minor views thus represented, one 
general idea and language, that of " cosmopolitanism," was 
made familiar to a multitude of minds. Worse still, the 
popular interest of the period in mysticism, theosophy, 
cabala, and genuine science was appealed to, in order to 

' Robison does not wholly miss the true point in his survey of the 
backgrounds of the French Revolution. He points out numerous " co- 
operating causes" which served to make the Revolution inevitable. 
" Perhaps there never was a nation where all these cooperating causes 
had acquired greater strength than in France. Oppressions of all kinds 
were at a height. The luxuries of life were enjoyed exclusively by the 
upper classes, and this in the highest degree of refinement; so that the 
desires of the rest were whetted to the utmost. Even religion ap- 
peared in an unwelcome form, and seemed chiefly calculated for pro- 
curing establishments for the younger sons of insolent and useless 
nobility. For numbers of men of letters were excluded, by their birth, 
from all hopes of advancement to the higher stations in the church. 
These men frequently vented their discontents by secretly joining the 
laics in their bitter satires on such in the higher orders of the clergy, 
as had scandalously departed from the purity and simplicity of manners 
which Christianity enjoins. Such examples were not unfrequent, and 
none was spared in those bitter invectives. . . . The faith of the 
nation was shaken; and when, in a few instances, a worthy Cure 
uttered the small still voice of true religion, it was not heard amidst 
the general noise of satire and reproach. The misconduct of admin- 
istration, and the abuse of the pubUc treasures, were every day grow- 
ing more impudent and glaring, and exposed the government to con- 
tinual criticism." (Robison, pp. 60 et seq. Cf. ibid., pp. 362 et seq.) 
These " cooperating causes " receive little emphasis, however, in Robi- 
son's zealous effort to trace the revolutionary spirit to its lair in the 
Masonic lodges of France. 

2 Ibid., pp. 40 et seq. 


provide a more numerous clientele among whom might be 
disseminated the doctrines of atheism, materialism, and dis- 
content with civil subordination/ Thus the Masonic lodges 
in France were made " the hot-beds, where the seeds were 
sown, and tenderly reared, of all the pernicious doctrines 
which soon after choaked every moral or religious cultiva- 
tion, and have made . . . Society worse than a waste. . . ." ^ 
The introduction of French Freemasonry into Germany, 
according to Robison, was followed by similar results/ 
Thither, as to France, simple English Freemasonry had first 
gone, and because of its exclusive emphasis upon the prin- 
ciple of brotherly love the Germans had welcomed it and 
treated it with deep seriousness ; * but the sense of mystery 
and the taste for ritualistic embellishments which the advent 
of French Masonry promoted, speedily changed the temper 
of the German brethren/ A reckless tendency to innova- 

1 Robison, op. cit., pp. 43 et seq. 

'Ibid., p. 51. Robison's account of this phase of the situation has 
little to commend it. Upon his own unsupported assertions many 
of the Revolutionary leaders, as, for example, Mirabeau, Sieyes, Despre- 
menil, Bailly, Fauchet, Maury, 'Mounier, and Talleyrand, are brought 
into direct connection with one or another of the French Masonic 
systems. Cf. Robison, pp. 49 et seq. Similarly, it is maintained, it 
was among Masonic lodges that the ideas contained in such books as 
Robinet's La Nature, ou I'Homme moral et physique, Condorcet's Le 
Progris de I'Esprit humain, Ixquinio's Les prijuges vaincus par la 
raison, and the book Des Erreurs et de la Verite, were first dissemin- 
ated. Indeed, some of these books are said to have sprung out of the 
very bosom of the lodges. Cf. ibid., pp. 43 et seq. 

^ Ibid., pp. 67 et seq. Comparison with Forestier, pp. 141 et seq., 
will make clear the paucity of the data upon which Robison drew in 
attempting to write the earlier chapters of the history of German 

* Robison, op. cit., p. 64. 

' Robison's language is absurdly strong. " In half a year Free 
Masonry underwent a complete revolution all over Germany." {Ibid., 
p. 70.) 


tion set in. The love of stars and ribbons/ and the desire 
to learn of ghost-raising, exorcism, and alchemy, = became 
the order of the day. Rosicrucianism flourished,^ rival sys- 
tems appeared, and questions of precedency split German 
Freemasonry into numerous fiercely hostile camps.* 

Meantime, on account of the propaganda carried on by 
the Enlighteners,^ a revolution of the public mind took place 
in Germany, marked by a great increase of scepticism, in- 
fidelity, and irreligion, not only among the wealthy and 
luxurious but among the profligate elements in the lower 
classes as well.® Rationalistic theologians, aided and abetted 
by booksellers and publishers and by educational theorists,^ 
cooperated to make the ideas of orthodox Christianity dis- 
tasteful to the general public* To give effect tO' this cam- 
paign of seduction, the lodges of Freemasonry were invaded 

' The sheer puerility of the treatment is indicated by the following : 
"A Mr. Rosa, a French commissary, brought from Paris a complete 
wagon-load of Masonic ornaments, which were all distributed before 
it had reached Berlin, and he was obliged to order another, to furnish 
the Lodges of that city. It became for a while the most profitable 
business to many French officers and commissaries dispersed over 
Germany, having little else to do." (Robison, op. cit., pp. 69 et seq.) 

2 Ibid., p. 7Z. 

3 Ibid., pp. 65 et seq. 

*Ibid., pp. 78, 79. Robison read into this situation a dehberate 
effort on the part of the leaders of French Freemasonry to extend the 
hegemony of the latter. He surmised that political uses and benefits 
were thus aimed at. Cf. ibid. 

" Robison's term for the representatives of the Aufkldrung. Cf. 
Robison, p. 81. 

8 Ibid., p. 80. This declension of faith and morals Robison, more 
wisely than he was aware, traced in part to the clash between the 
Roman Catholic and Protestant systems in Germany and the spirit of 
free inquiry which was thus promoted. See Robison, pp. 80 et seqq. 

' It is in this connection that Basedow is brought into relations with 
Robison's devious exposition. Cf. ibid., pp. 85 et seq. 

* Ibid., pp. 82 et seq. 


and their secret assemblies employed to spread free-thinking 
and cosmopolitical ideas. ^ Thus German Freemasonry be- 
came impregnated with the impious and revolutionary ten- 
dencies of French Freemasonry.^ 

At such an hour, according to Robison, Weishaupt 
founded his Order of the Illuminati.* Employing the op- 
portunities afforded him by his connections with the 
Masons/ he exerted himself to make disciples and to lay 
the foundations of an " Association . . . which, in time, 
should govern the world," ° the express aim of which " was 
to abolish Christianity and overturn all civil government." " 

^ Robison, op. cit., pp. 92 et seq. "... Germany has experienced the 
same gradual progress, from Religion to Atheism, from decency to dis- 
soluteness, and from loyalty to rebellion, which has had its course in 
France. And I must now add, that this progress has been effected 
in the same manner, and by the same means; and that one of the 
chief means of seduction has been the Lodges of the Free Masons. 
The French, along with their numerous chevaleries [sic], and stars, 
and ribands, had brought in the custom of haranguing in the Lodges, 
and as human nature has a considerable uniformity everywhere, the 
same topics became favorite subjects of declamation that had tickled 
the ear in France; there were the same corruptions of sentiments and 
manners among the luxurious or profligate, and the same incitements 
to the utterance of these sentiments, wherever it could be done with 
safety; and I may say, that the zealots in all these tracts of free- 
thinking were more serious, more grave, and fanatical. These are 
assertions a priori. I can produce proofs." (Ibid., pp. 91 et seq.) 
The " proofs " here referred to concern the Masonic career of Baron 
Knigge, whose antagonism to orthodox Christianity Robison distorts 
both as to its temper and its effect. 

2 Ibid., pp. 126 et seq. 

2 Ibid., pp. 100 et seq. 

* Ibid., pp. loi et seq. These connections Robison almost wholly 
misconceived. Cf. supra, pp. 150, 163 et seq. 

^ Robison, op. cit., p. 103. 

' Ibid., p. 105. The ulterior object of the order is later stated by 
Robison in the following manner : " Their first and immediate aim is 
to get possession of riches, power, and influence, without industry; and, 
to accomplish this, they want to abolish Christianity ; and then dissolute 


To accomplish this end a most insinuating pedagogy was 
adopted/ the members were trained to spy upon one an- 
other/ and hypocrisy which did not stop short of positive 
villainy was practised/ As a fitting climax to a program 
that involved the complete subversion of existing moral 
standards, women were to be admitted to the lodges.* 

manners and universal profligacy will procure them the adherence of 
all the wicked, and enable them to overturn all the civil governments 
of Europe; after which they will think of further conquests, and ex- 
tend their operations to the other quarters of the globe, till they have 
reduced mankind to a state of one indistinguishable chaotic mass." 
Robison, pp. 209 et seq. 

1 Ibid., p. 126. 

^Ibid., p. 212. 

'Robison omitted nothing in his effort to fasten the stigma of moral 
obliquity upon the order. The published papers of the order were ap- 
pealed to to show that crimes of bribery, theft, and libertinism were not 
uncommon on the part of the leaders. See Robison, pp. 144 et seq. 
The unsavory documents of the order referred to on page 181 of this 
dissertation likewise received Robison's zealous attention. Cf. ibid., 
pp. 138 et seq. Weishaupt's personal immorality in his relations with 
his sister-in-law is made to do full duty as " a brilliant specimen of the 
ethics which illuminated" the leaders. Cf. ibid., pp. 164 et seq. (If 
a particular illustration of Robison's bungling way of handling his 
German sources were needed, that might be found in the fact that our 
author identified the victim of Weishaupt's lust as the sister-in-law of 
Zwack. Cf. ibid., p. 167.) 

* To Robison's mind this constituted the crowning infamy of the 
order. " There is nothing in the whole constitution of the lUuminati 
that strikes me with more horror than the proposals of Hercules and 
Minos to enlist women in this shocking warfare with all that ' is good, 
and pure, and lovely, and of good report'. . . . Are not the accursed 
fruits of Illumination to be seen in the present humiliating condition 
of women in France? . . In their present state of national moderation 
(as they call it) and security, see Madame Tallien come into the 
public theatre, accompanied by other beautiful women, ( I was about 
to have misnamed them Ladies), laying aside all modesty, and present- 
ing themselves to the public view, with bared limbs, a la Sauvage, 
as the alluring objects of desire . . . Was not their abominable farce 
in the church of Notre Dame a bait of the same kind, in the true 
spirit of Weishaupt's Erot-erion? " (Robison, pp. 243, 251, 252.) 


Following an analysis of the grades of the order/ lifted 
little if any above the general plane of ineptitude upon which 
the author moved, Robison incorporated into his history of 
the Bavarian Illuminati a table of the lodges that had been 
established prior to 1786/ Drawing professedly upon the 
private papers of the order as published by the Bavarian 
government, he worked out a list which included five lodges 
in Strassburg; four in Bonn; fourteen in Austria; " many" 
in each of the following states, Livonia, Courland, Alsace, 
Hesse, Poland, Switzerland, and Holland; eight in Eng- 
land; two in Scotland; and "several" in America.^ 

The suppression of the Illuminati by the Bavarian gov- 
ernment was regarded by Robison as merely " formal " in 
its nature : * the evil genius of the banned order speedily 
reappeared in the guise of the German Union.'^ Into the 
discussion of the German Union Robison read the " proofs " 
of an enterprise truly gigantic both as to its proportions and 
its baneful influence. The illuminated lodges of Free- 
masonry were declared to have given way to reading soci- 
eties wherein the initiated, i. e., the members of the Union, 
actively employed themselves, apparently to accomplish the 
noble ends of enlightening mankind and securing the de- 
thronement of superstition and fanaticism,® but actually to 
secure the destruction of every sentiment of religion, moral- 

1 Robison, op. cit., pp. 110-200. 

2 Ibid., pp. 201 et seq. 

2 Ibid. Although offered to the public with every show of con- 
fidence, Robison's list was largely chimerical. He had depended upon 
isolated references in the papers of the order, many of which he must 
have misread. Doubtless in numerous cases he took the hopes of the 
ambitious leaders of the order as sober statements of fact. The 
importance of the reference to America will, of course, appear later. 

* Ibid., p. 272. 
s Ibid., p. 286. 

* Ibid., p. 290. 


ity and loyalty^ The higher mysteries of Bahrdt's silly 
and abortive project were declared to be identical with those 
of Weishaupt's order : natural religion and atheism were to 
be substituted for Christianity, and political principles 
equally anarchical with those of the Illuminati were fos- 

Although Robison confessed himself driven to pronounce 
Bahrdt's enterprise " coarse, and palpably mean," * and 
although the archives and officers of the Union were held 
to be " contemptible," * none the less an elaborate though 
most disjointed tale was unfolded by him. This involved 
the organization of the German literati and the control of 
the book trade, with a view to forming taste and directing 
public opinion ; ° and the establishment of reading societies 
to the number of eight hundred or more,® among whose 
members were to be circulated such books as were calculated 
to fortify the mind against all disposition to be startled on 
account of the appearance of " doctrines and maxims which 
are singular, or perhaps opposite to those which are current 
in ordinary societies." ^ Thus it would be possible "to work 

^ Robison, op. cit., pp. 315 et seq. 

- Ibid., p. 322. 

^Ibid., p. 321. 

*Ibid., p. 317. "All the Archives that were found were the plans 
and lists of the members, and a parcel of letters of correspondence. 
The correspondence and other business was managed by an old man in 
some inferior office or judicatory, who lived at bed and board in 
Bahrdt's house for about six shillings a week, having a chest of 
papers and a writing-desk in the corner of the common room of the 
house." (Ibid.) 

= Ibid., pp. 291, 296, 297. 

® Ibid., p. 299. Bahrdt's fantastical program called for the division 
of these societies into Provinces or Dioceses, each directed by its 
Diocesan, and subordinate to a central organization. Cf. ibid., p. 292. 

' Ibid., p. 294. 


in silence upon all courts, families, and individuals in every 
quarter, and acquire an influence in the appointment of 
court-officers, stewards, secretaries, parish-priests, public 
teachers, or private tutors." ^ 

Robison was unable to present anything beyond the most 
tenuous " proofs " that a direct relation existed between 
Weishaupt's system and Bahrdt's enterprise; ^ still he did 
not hesitate to affirm that, on account of the emergence of 
the latter, it had been made clear that the suppression of the 
Illuminati had been futile.' " Weishaupt and his agents 
were still busy and successful." * 

Arriving finally at the subject of the French Revolution, 
Robison devoted something more than sixty pages to an 
effort to connect the system of Weishaupt with the great 
European debacle. Approaching the matter with uncon- 
cealed dubiety,'^ he found his confidence and boldness grow- 
ing as he proceeded. Relying chiefly upon such uncritical 
and promiscuous sources as the Religions Begehenheiten, the 
Wiener Zeitschrift, and the Magasin des Literatur et Kunst 

1 Robison, op. cit., p. 297. 

^ Ibid., pp. 322 et seq. "... although I cannot consider the German 
Union as a formal revival of the Order under another name, I must 
hold those United, and the members of those Reading Societies, as 
Illuminati and Minervals. I must even consider the Union as a part of 
Spartacus's work." {Ibid.) 

^ Ibid., pp. 3SS et seq. " Thus I think it clearly appears, that the 
suppression of the Illuminati in Bavaria and of the Union in Branden- 
burgh were insufficient . . . The habit of plotting had formed itself 
into a regular system. iSocieties now acted everywhere in secret, in 
correspondence with similar societies in distant places. And thus a 
mode of cooperation was furnished to the discontented, the restless, 
and the unprincipled in all places, without even the trouble of formal 
initiations, and without any external appearances by which the exist- 
ence and occupations of the members could be distinguished." {Ibid.) 

*Ibid., p. 3SS- Cf. ibid., p. 286. 

= Ibid., p. 358. 


(sic), and a work entitled Memoires Posthumes de Custine, 
he sought a point of direct contact between the Illuminati 
and the French revolutionary movement by stressing the 
enlistment of Mirabeau/ the mission of Bode and von 
Busche,^ and the instructions which, he alleged, were given 
by the latter to the Amis Reunis and the Philalethes through 
their chief lodges at Paris.' 

The mission of Bode and von Busche, according to Robi- 
son, had been undertaken at the request of Mirabeau and 
the Abbe Perigord * (Talleyrand). When Weishaupt's plan 
was thus communicated to the two French lodges mentioned, 
" they saw at once its importance, in all its branches, such 
as the use of the Masonic Lodges, to fish for Minervals — the 
rituals and ranks to entice the young, and to lead them by 
degrees to opinions and measures which, at first sight, would 
have shocked them." ° By the beginning of 1789 the lodges 
of the Grand Orient ° had received the secrets of the Illu- 
minati.' The Duke of Orleans, who had been " illumin- 
ated " by Mirabeau,' and whose personal political ambitions 
were strongly stressed by Robison,® gave hearty support to 
the enterprise; and thus in a very short time the Masonic 
lodges of France were converted into a set of secret affiliated 
societies, all corresponding with the mother lodges of Paris, 
and ready to rise instantly and overturn the government as 

^ Robison, op. cit., p. 371. 
2 Ibid., pp. 393 et seq. 
' Ibid., pp. 397 et seq. 

* Ibid., p. 374. 
^Ibid., p. 398. 

• The Grand Orient, according to Robison, represented the association 
of all the improved Masonic lodges of France. Its Grand Master was 
the Duke of Orleans. Cf. ibid., p. 381. 

'' Ibid., pp. 400 et seq. 

8 Ibid., p. 376. 

^ Ibid., pp. Z7(> et seq. 


soon as the signal should be given/ The political commit- 
tees organized in each of these " illuminated " lodges famil- 
iarized not only their brethren but, through them, the coun- 
try in general, with the secret revolutionary program.^ 
Thus it happened that the " stupid Bavarians " became the 
instructors of the French " in the art of overturning the 
world " ; * and thus, also, it happened that " the whole 
nation changed, and changed again, and again, as if by 
beat of drum." * 

Such in its main outlines and in its " principal links " of 
evidence is the Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Re- 
ligions and Governments of Europe. Yet to obtain a just 
appraisal of the book it must not be overlooked that its 
author wrote an additional one hundred and fifty pages, not 
of " proofs " but of argument, partly to defend errors of 
judgment he may have committed in his treatment of the 
subject, but chiefly to persuade his fellow countrjmien that 
the principles of Illuminism were false and to urge them to 
turn a deaf ear to these doctrines. 

-> We turn now to consider another and much more elabor- 
ate exposition of the Illuminati-French Revolution legend. 
Almost at the moment of the appearance of Robison's book, 
there appeared in French, at London and Hamburg, a far 

1 Robison, op. cit., p. 405. 

2 Ibid., p. 402. Robison regarded the famous Jacobin Club in 
Paris as "just one of those Lodges." (Robison, p. 406. Cf. ibid., 
p. 402.) He allowed his statement to stand, however, without making 
any effort to substantiate it. Further, he held that the political com- 
mittees in these " illuminated" lodges of France were in correspondence 
with similar committees in Germany, Holland, Austria, and Switzerland. 
Cf. ibid., pp. 406 et seq., 414 et seq., 420. The contradictory character 
of his " evidence " is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that he treats 
the Masonic lodges of Paris as trying to seduce the lodges of German 
Freemasons. Cf. Ibid., p. 418. 

'Ibid., p. 402. 
* Ibid., p. 405. 


more finished production, devoted to the same thesis and 
bearing the title, MSmoires pour servir a I'histoire du Jacobi- 
nisme.^ Its author, the Abbe Barruel," who had been trained 

1 The London edition of 1797-8(4 vols.) was reprinted in five volumes 
at Hamburg, Augsburg and Braunschweig; and a new edition, revised 
and corrected by the author, was issued at Lyons in 1818. Barruel 
himself put forth an English translation at London in 1798; and this 
was reprinted at Hartford, Conn., New York, and -Elizabeth-town, 
N. J., the following year. Continental allies of the ex-Jesuit must 
have been responsible for translations into Polish, Dutch and 
Portuguese, which enjoyed but one printing apiece, as well as 
for the three editions of the Spanish translation, and for two 
of the three Italian editions. During the anti-Masonic campaign 
of the swindler Leo Taxil (1887), the Italian translation was re- 
printed at Rome by the Tipografia de Propaganda Fide. 

Abridgements and excerpts were also circulated in several lan- 
guages, including English. In this connection the following titles 
may also be noted : Application of Barruel's Memoirs of Jacobinism 
to the Secret Societies of Ireland and Great Britain, London, 1798; 
The Anti-Christian and Antisocial Conspiracy. An extract from the 
French of Barruel, to which is prefixed " Jachin and Boaz," Lan- 
caster, (U. S.), 1812. 

Cf. Sommervogel, C, Bibliotheque de la Compagnie de Jesus, i, 
Bruxelles, 1890, coll. 938-941 ; also Wolfstieg, Bibliographic der Frei- 
maurerischen Literatur, vol. i, pp. 324, 325. 

'Augustin Barruel (1741-1820) was a French controversialist and 
publicist, whose zeal was aroused in the defence of traditional eccles- 
iastical institutions and doctrines, in opposition to rationalistic ten- 
dencies manifest in the eighteenth century. Barruel entered the Society 
of Jesus in 1756 and was later driven from France when that order was 
suppressed by the French government in 1773. Permitted the next year 
to terminate his exile, he gave himself to literary pursuits. As might 
be expected, the turbulent condition of public affairs in France drew 
him into the currents of political discussion. His loyalty to the inter- 
ests of the church would brook no silence. The civil oath demanded 
of ecclesiastics and the promulgation of the civil constitution in the 
earlier period of the Revolution specially roused his spirit, and led 
to the publication of a number of pamphlets from his pen. His eccles- 
iastical loyalties and political antagonisms were such that when the 
full fury of the revolutionary storm broke, Barruel became an emigre 
and sought asylum in England. There he continued his literary em- 
ployments, and pubUshed in 1794 his well-known Histoire du clerge 
de France, pendant la revolution frangaise. In that same year he 


as a Jesuit, enjoying literary talents much superior to those 
of Robison and relying upon documentary evidence more 
copious if not more convincing, defined his purpose in the 
following manner : 

We shall show that with which it is incumbent on all nations 
and their chiefs to be acquainted: we shall demonstrate that, 
even to the most horrid deeds perpetrated during the French 
Revolution, everything was foreseen and resolved on, was com- 
bined and premeditated : that they were the oflfspring of deep- 
thought villainy, since they had been prepared and were pro- 
duced by men, who alone held the clue of those plots and con- 
spiracies, lurking in the secret meetings where they had been 
conceived, and only watching the favorable moment of bursting 
forth. Though the events of each day may not appear to have 
been combined, there nevertheless existed a secret agent and 

brought out an English translation at London. This work Barruel dedi- 
cated to the English people in grateful recognition of the hospitable 
treatment which they accorded the persecuted ecclesiastics of his own 
land. Later, and while still in England, he wrote his Memoirs of 
Jacobinism. The number of editions through which this work passed 
is in itself a gauge of its claim upon popular interest. After the 
fall of the Directory, and after he had given his pledge of fidelity 
to the new government, Barruel again was permitted to return to 
France. With a view to heahng the schism in the French church which 
the Revolution had produced, he championed the cause of the govern- 
ment in a work entitled, Du Pope et ses droits religieux, 1803. As the 
Napoleonic regime drew towards its close, Barruel came to be regarded 
as an emigre priest, and suffered arrest at the hands of the government. 
In August, 1816, Barruel was allowed to make his profession in the 
Society of Jesus. Shortly before this he wrote to its General: "Je 
m'etais toujours regards comme lie par mes voeux, sans cesser d'etre 
vraiment Jesuite, ce qui heureusement a fait pour moi une douce illusion 
dans laquelle je remercie Dieu de m' avoir laisse vivre jusqu' au moment 
ou vous vous pretez avec tant de bonte a la demande que j'ai faite pour 
ma profession." {La Compagnie de Jesus en France, Histoire d'un 
sidcle, 1814-1914, Par Joseph Burnichon, S.J., Tome i<^', Paris, 1914, 
pp. 74 et seg.) The last years of Barruel's life were spent in retire- 
ment. A list of his writings may be found in Querard's La France 
Litteraire, Tome Premier, pp. 196, 197, and a more elaborate one, 
in Sommervogel, op. cit., i, coll. 930-945. 


a secret cause, giving rise to each event, and turning each cir- 
cumstance to the long-sought-for end. Though circumstances 
may often have afforded the pretense of the occasion, yet the 
grand cause of the revolution, its leading features, its atrocious 
crimes, will still remain one continued chain of deep-laid and 
premeditated villainy.^ 

The amazing breadth of Barruel's canvass, as well as the 
naivete of the artist, are immediately disclosed in his fore- 
word respecting the " triple conspiracy " which he proposes 
to lay bare." To present this " triple conspiracy " in his 
own words will do more than define the abbe's conception 
of his task : its transparent incoordination will make it ap- 
parent that much of the work of examination that might 
otherwise seem to be called for is futile. 

I St. Many years before the French Revolution, men who 
styled themselves Philosophers conspired against the God of the 
Gospel, against Christianity, without distinction of worship, 
whether Protestant or Catholic, Anglican or Presbyterian. 
The grand object of this conspiracy was to overturn every altar 
where Christ was adored. It was the conspiracy of the 
SopMsters^ of Impiety, or the ANTICHRISTIAN CON- 

2dly. This school of impiety soon formed the Sophist ers 
of Rebellion: these latter, combining their conspiracy against 
kings with that of the Sophisters of Impiety, coalesce with 
that ancient sect whose tenets constituted the whole secret of 
the Occult-Lodges of Free-Masonry, which long since, impos- 
ing on the credulity of its most distinguished adepts, only 
initiated the chosen of the elect into the secret of their un- 
relenting hatred for Christ and kings. 

3dly. From the Sophisters of Impiety and Rebellion arose 
Sophisters of Impiety and Anarchy. These latter conspire 

1 Barruel, op. cit., pp. i, vi. 

^ Ibid., pp. xiii et seq. 

' Barruel's term was Sophistes. 


not only against Christ and his altars, but against every re- 
ligion natural or revealed : not only against kings, but against 
every government, against all civil society, even against all 
property whatsoever. 

This third sect, known by the name of Illumines, coalesced 
with the Sophisters conspiring against Christ, coalesced with 
the Sophisters who, with the Occult Masons, conspired against 
both Christ and kings. It was the coalition of the adepts of 
impiety, of the adepts of rebellion, and the adepts of anarchy, 
which formed the CLUB of the JACOBINS. . . . Such was 
the origin, such the progress of that sect, since become so 
dreadfully famous under the name JACOBIN. In the present 
Memoirs each of these three conspiracies shall be treated separ- 
ately; their authors unmasked, the object, means, coalition and 
progress of the adepts shall be laid open.^ 

The sole proposition which Barruel proposed to maintain 
is thus made clear enough. All the developments of the 
French Revolution were to be explained on the basis of the 
following postulate : The Encyclopedists, Freemasons, and 
Bavarian Illuminati, working together, not unconsciously 
but with well-planned coordination, produced the Jacobins, 
and the Jacobins in turn produced the Revolution. Over all, 
embracing all, the word " conspiracy " must needs be writ- 
ten large. 

The first volume of the Memoirs was devoted to the con- 
spiracy of the philosophers. Voltaire, D'Alembert, Fred- 
erick II, and Diderot — " Voltaire the chief, D^Alembert the 
most subtle agent, Frederick the protector and often the ad- 
viser, Diderot the forlorn hope " ^ — these were the men who 
originally leagued themselves together " in the most invet- 
erate hatred of Christianity." ^ Bringing out into bold re- 
lief the most malignant and brutal of the anticlerical and 

1 Barruel, op. cit., pp. xiv, xv. 
' Ihid., p. 2. 
^ Ibid., p. I. 


anti^Christian utterances of Voltaire and his friends/ as 
well as all available evidence of a crafty strategy on the part 
of the conspirators to avoid detection of their plan/ Barruel 
was emboldened to affirm a desperate plan to overturn every 
altar where Qirist was adored, whether in London, Geneva, 
Stockholm, Petersburg, Paris, Madrid, Vienna, or Rome, 
whether Protestant or Catholic/ 

The first definite step in this campaign of the philosophers 
is declared to have been the publication of L' EncyclopMie ; " 
the second, the suppression of the Jesuits and the widespread 
elimination of religious houses ; ° and the third, the capture 
of the French Academy by the philosophers and the diver- 
sion of its honors to impious writers/ 

The foregoing were measures which primarily concerned 
" the chiefs," or " better sort." ' Efforts to extend the con- 
spiracy to the hovel and the cottage were also made. Ac- 
cordingly, appeals to toleration, reason, and humanity be- 
came the order of the day/ These were intended to im- 

' Barruel's main reliance is the correspondence of Voltaire, as pub- 
lished in the edition of Kehl. 

2 Barruel, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 25 et seq. 

3 Ibid., pp. 26, 27, 33. 

* Ibid., pp. 54 et seq. Barruel represents the Encyclopedists as 
arguing that force could not be employed until there had first been a 
revolution in all religious ideas; hence L'Encyclopedie, with all its 
insinuating doubts, its artful cross-references, its veiled impiety, was 
planned to give the first great impulse in that direction. Thus the old 
forms of thought would perish "as it were, by inanition;" later, the 
laying of the axe to the altar would not be hazardous. 

° Ibid., pp. 75 et seq. 

o Ibid., pp. 127 et seq. 

'^ Ibid., pp. 163 et seq. According to Barruel, the conspirators 
numbered among their adepts the following: Joseph II of Germany, 
Catherine II of Russia, Christian VII of Denmark, Gustave III of 
Sweden, Poniatowski, king of Poland, and the landgrave Frederick 
of Hesse-Cassel. 

^ Ibid., p. IS4- 


press the populace and, by a show of sympathy with those 
who complained of their condition, prepare the way for the 
days of rebelHon, violence, and murder which were yet to 
come/ Free schools were established, directed by men who, 
privy to the great conspiracy, became zealous corrupters of 
youth. ^ All was carefully calculated and planned to render 
possible the full fruitage of the designs of the conspirators 
when the harvest day should come. 

Having thus dealt with the conspiracy against altars, 
Barruel turned in his second volume to consider the plot 
against thrones. The great inspirers of this covert attack 
upon monarchy were Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. 
Voltaire, though by nature a friend of kings, whose favor 
and caresses were his delight, yet, since he found them 
standing in the way of his efforts to extirpate Christianity, 
was led to oppose them, and to substitute the doctrines of 
equality of rights and liberty of reason for his earlier em- 
phasis upon loyalty to sovereigns."* Unwittingly, through 
his Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu had helped on the anti- 
monarchical resolution by his heavy emphasis upon the 
essential differences between monarchies and democracies, 
thus for the first time suggesting to the French people that 
they lived under a despotic government and helping to 
alienate them from their king.* As for Rousseau, in his 
Social Contract he had widened the path which Montesquieu 
had opened." His doctrines had the effect of placing mon- 

1 Barruel, op. cit., p. 157. 

^ Ibid., pp. 321 et seq. 

3 Ibid., vol. ii, pp. 9, 10, 13 ct seq., 21. 

* Ibid., pp. 52 et seq., 65, 76. Barruel labors hard to save him- 
self from the cruel necessity of including Montesquieu in the list of 
conspirators. He finds it " painful to apply such a reproach to this 
celebrated writer." (Ibid., p. 76.) With some cleverness he remarks : 
" He [Montesquieu] did not conspire by setting up his systems, but his 
systems formed conspirators." (Ibid., p. 98.) 

8 Ibid., p. 10 1. 


archy in an abhorrent light. They filled the minds of the 
people with a passion for Liberty and Equality. 

The systems of Montesquieu and Rousseau, particularly, 
induced the Sophisters of Impiety to combine the task of 
overthrowing monarchy with the task of overthrowing re- 
ligion.^ A sweeping attempt to popularize the leveling prin- 
ciples embodied in those two systems immediately devel- 
oped. A flood of antimonarchical writings appeared," gov- 
ernments were sharply criticized, despotism was roundly 
denounced, the minds of the people were agitated and in- 
flamed, and the notion of revolution was rendered familiar 
both by precept and example.' 

Some powerful secret agency was needed, however, to 
promote this vast conspiracy. The lodges of Freemasonry 
suggested a tempting possibility. The members of the craft 
gave ample evidence that they were susceptible.* The occult 
lodges, ° moreover, already had traveled far toward the goal 
of revolution. All their protests to the contrary, their one 
secret was: " Equality and Liberty; all men are equals and 
brothers; all men are free." ' Surely it would not be diffi- 

1 Barruel, op. cit., pp. 130, 131, 157 et seq. 

2 Ibid., pp. 159 et seq. 

•Barruel contended that the popular uprisings of the period in Geneva, 
Bohemia, Transylvania, and even among the negroes of St. Domingo, 
were all directly due to the conspiracy. Cf. Barruel, pp. 205 et seq., 
255 et seq., 260 et seq., 271. 

* Barruel's estimate of Freemasonry wfas appreciably lower than that 
of Robison. Its mysteries were to be traced to Manes, and to the 
introduction of Manichaeism into Europe in the period of Frederich II 
{■1221-1250). Condorcet was appealed to for proof in this connection. 
Cf. Barruel, pp. 399 et seq. The general idea that the Freemasons 
were responsible for the campaign against monarchy and the Catholic 
religion which, many believed, characterized the greater part of the 
eighteenth century, had already been made familiar to the French by 
the ecclesiastics Larudan and Lefranc. Cf. Forestier, pp. 684 et seq. 

' By the occult lodges Barruel meant those whose members had re- 
ceived the higher mysteries and degrees. Cf. Barruel, vol. ii, p. 293. 

« Ibid., pp. 276, 277, 278, 279. 


cult for the enemies of thrones and altars to reach the ears 
of men who cherished such a secret, and to convert their 
lodges into council-chambers and forums for the propaga- 
tion of the doctrines of impiety and rebellion. 

An alliance was speedily consummated,^ and a fresh tor- 
rent of declamation and calumnies, all directed against the 
altar and the throne, began to pour through these newly 
discovered subterranean channels.^ The Grand Orient con- 
stituted a central committee which as early as 1776 in- 
structed the deputies of the lodges throughout France to 
prepare the brethren for insurrection.' Condorcet and 
Sieyes placed themselves at the head of another lodge, to 
which the Propaganda was to be traced.* In addition, a 
secret association bearing the title Amis des Noirs created a 
regulating committee, composed of such men as Condorcet, 
the elder Mirabeau, Sieyes, Brissot, Carra, the Due de la 
Rochefoucauld, Claviere, Lepelletier de Saint-Fargeau, Va- 
lade. La Fayette, and Bergasse." This regulating committee 
was also in intimate correspondence with the French lodges 
of Freemasonry. Thus a powerful secret organization was 
at hand, composed of not less than six hundred thousand 
members all told, at least five hundred thousand of whom 
could be fully counted upon to do the bidding of the con- 
spirators, " all zealous for the Revolution, all ready to rise 
at the first signal and to impart the shock to all other classes 
of the people." ° 

However, all these machinations might have come to 
naught had it not been for the encouragement and direction 

' Ihid., pp. 436 et seq. 

2 Ibid., p. 436. 

3 Ibid., p. 438. 

* Ibid., pp. 444 et seq. 
^ Ibid., pp. 4SS et seq. 
8 Ibid., pp. 471 et seq. Cf. ibid., p. 437. 


supplied by the Illuminati. In the latter Barruel saw the 
apotheosis of infamy and corruption/ With diabolical in- 
genuity the chiefs of the Illuminati succeeded in evolving an 
organization which put into the hands of the conspirators, 
i. e., the philosophers and Freemasons, the very instrument 
they needed to give full effect to their plans. The superiority 
of that organization was to be seen in its principles of gen- 
eral subordination and the gradation of superiors, in the 
minute instructions given to adepts and officers covering 
every conceivable responsibility and suggesting infinite op- 
portunities to promote the order's welfare, and in the abso- 
lute power of its general.'' Thus was built up a hierarchy 
of savants, an association held under a most rigid discipline, 
a formidable machine capable of employing its maximum 
power as its governing hand might direct. ' With the close 

' " Under the name of ILLUMINES a band of Conspirators had 
coalesced with the Encyclopedists and Masons, far more dangerous 
in their tenets, more artful in their plots, and more extensive in their 
plans of devastation. They more silently prepared the explosions of 
the iRevolutionary volcano, not merely swearing hatred to the Altar of 
Christ and the Throne of Kings, but swearing at once hatred to every 
God, to every Law, to every 'Government, to all society and social 
compact; and in order to destroy every plea and every foundation of 
social contract, they proscribed the terms MINE and THINE, acknowl- 
edging neither Equality nor Liberty but in the entire, absolute and 
universal overthrow of all PROPERTY whatever." (Barruel, op. cit., 
p. 478. Cf. vol. iii, pp. 17, 22 et seq.) 

' Barruel attributed little or no success to the efforts which Weis- 
haupt's associates made to strip him of much of his despotic power. 
Cf. Barruel, ch. xviii. 

' The discussion of the character of the order fills the entire third 
volume of the Memoirs. It is not too much to say that Barruel's 
analysis of the organization is characterized by no little soundness of 
judgment as well as by literary skill. The documents upon which he 
draws are not only those published by the Bavarian government, but 
also the apologetic writings of Weishaupt and Knigge, as well 
as a considerable part of the polemical Uterature which developed 
after the suppression of the order. Yet it need scarcely be said, the 
author's bias is nowhere obscured. On page after page he conveys 


of the third volume Barruel considers that he has been able 
to present a " complete academy of Conspirators." ^ 

Barruel's last volume, the most formidable of all, was 
devoted by its author to the forging of the final link in his 
chain : the coalescence of the conspiring philosophers. Free- 
masons, and Illuminati into the Jacobins. To establish a 
connection between the " illuminated " Masons and the im- 
mediate " authors and abettors of the French Revolution," ^ 
i. e., the Jacobins, Barruel had recourse to the familiar in- 
ventions of the reappearance of the Bavarian Illuminati 

the impression that he is dealing with the sum of all villainies. His 
judgment of Weishaupt was, of course, severe: "An odious phenomenon 
in nature, an Atheist void of remorse, a profound hypocrite, destitute 
of those superior talents which lead to the vindication of truth, he is 
possessed of all that energy and ardor in vice which generates con- 
spirators for impiety and anarchy. Shunning, like the ill-boding owl, 
the genial rays of the sun, he wraps around him the mantle of dark- 
ness; and history shall record of him, as of the evil spirit, only the 
black deeds which he planned or executed. . . . Scarcely have the 
magistrates cast their eyes upon him when they find him at the head 
of a conspiracy which, when compared with those of the clubs of 
Voltaire and D'Alembert, or with the secret committees of D'Orleans 
[sic], make these latter appear like the faint imitations of puerility, 
and show the Sophister and the Brigand as mere novices in the arts 
of revolution." (Barruel, op. cit., pp. 2, 3, 7.) 

^Ibid., p. 293. Cf. ibid., p. 413 : " Will not hell vomit forth its legions 
to applaud this last Spartacus, to contemplate in amazement this work 
of the Illuminizing Code? Will not Satan exclaim, 'iHere then are men 
as I wished them" [?]. 

2 Ibid., vol. iv, p. 379. Cf. ibid., p. 387 : " . .in this den of con- 
spirators . . . we find every thing in perfect union with the Occult 
Lodges, to which it only succeeds. Adepts, object, principles, all are 
the same; whether we turn our eyes towards the adepts of impiety, of 
rebellion, or of anarchy, they are now but one conspiring Sect, under 
the diastrous name of Jacobin. We have hitherto denominated some 
by the name of Sophisters, others by that of Occult Masons, and, lastly, 
we have described those men styled Illuminees. Their very names will 
now disappear ; they will in future all be duly described by the name 
of Jacobin." 


after its suppression/ the rise and corrupting influence of 
the German Union/ that treacherous " modification of 
Weishaupt's Minerval schools," * and, particularly, the pre- 
tended mission of Bode and von Busche to Paris/ 

With respect to this last invention, no more worthy of 
our comment than the others except for the fact that it was 
supposed to supply the direct point of contact between the 
conspirators and the French Revolution, Barruel was 
obliged to admit that he was unable to place before his 
readers evidence of the precise character of the negotiations 
that took place between the deputation from Berlin and the 
French lodges : ° " facts " would have to be permitted to 
speak for themselves.* These " facts " were such as the 
following : the lodges of Paris were rapidly converted into 
clubs, with regulating committees and political committees; ' 
the resolutions of the regulating committees were commu- 
nicated through the committee of correspondence of the 
Grand Orient to the heads of the Masonic lodges scattered 
throughout France; * the day of general insurrection was 
thus fixed for July 14, 1789; * on the fatal day the lodges 
were dissolved, and the Jacobins, suddenly throwing off 
their garments of secrecy and hypocrisy, stood forth in the 
clear light of day/" 

His last two hundred pages were devoted by Barruel to 

1 Barruel, op. cit., ch. ix. 

2 Ihid., ch. X. 
^Ibid., p. 326. 

* Ibid., ch. xi. 
^Ibid., p. 370. 

* Ibid., pp. 370 et seq. 
' Ibid., pp. 375 et seq. 

8 Ihid., p. 376. 

9 Ibid., ^.377- 
^oibid., p. 379- 


arguments shaped chiefly to show that the principles of the 
Revolutionary leaders were identical with the principles of 
the illuminated lodges; ^ that the successes of the Revolu- 
tionary armies, of Custine beyond the Rhine,^ of Dumou- 
riez in Belgium,* of Pichegru in Holland,* and of Bona- 
parte in Italy, in Malta, and in Egypt," were explicable only 
on the ground of treacherous intrigues carried on by the 
agents of Illuminism ; and that no country, moreover, need 
flatter itself it would escape the seductions and plots of the 
conspirators. The dragon's teeth of revolution were already 
sown in Switzerland, in Sweden, in Russia, in Poland, in 
Austria, in Prussia, and in America.^ With Barruel's com- 
ment upon America,' our discussion of the Memoirs of Jaco- 
binism may well come to a close. 

As the plague flies on the wings of the wind, so do their 
triumphant legions infect America. Their apostles have in- 
fused their principles into the submissive and laborious 
negroes; and St. Domingo and Guadaloupe have been con- 
verted into vast charnel houses for their inhabitants. So 
numerous were the brethren in North America, that Phila- 
delphia and Boston trembled, lest their rising constitution 
should be obliged to make way for that of the great club; and 
if for a time the brotherhood has been obliged to shrink back 
into their hiding places, they are still sufficiently numerous to 

^ Barruel, op. cit., passim. 

2 Ihid., pp. 468 et seq. 

^ Ibid., pp. 472 et seq. 

* Ibid., pp. 476 et seq. 

8 Ibid., pp. 482 et seq. 

® Ibid., pp. 493-SSi. Barruel found no difficulty in making the con- 
spiracy broad enough in Prussia to take in Immanuel Kant. Cf. 
ibid., pp. 523 et seq. The Professor of Konigsberg and the Professor 
of Ingolstadt developed systems which ultimately lead to the same end 
(!). C/. ifeid., p. 526. 

^ Ibid., pp. 493 et seq. 


raise collections and transmit them to the insurgents of 
Ireland ; ^ thus contributing toward that species of revolution 
which is the object of their ardent wishes in America.^ God 
grant that the United States may not learn to their cost, that 
Republics are equally menaced with Monarchies ; and that the 
immensity of the ocean is but a feeble barrier against the 
universal conspiracy of the Sect ! 

Note : The literary relationship between the works of 
Robison and Baxruel is of sufficient interest and significance 
to warrant some comment. Robison's volume was pub- 
lished before its author saw Barruel's composition in its 
French text/ Later, Robison was moved to rejoice that 
Barruel had confirmed his main positions and contentions. 
A few things in the Memoirs of Jacobinism, however, im- 
press him as startling. He confesses that he had never be- 
fore heard the claim seriously made that " irreligion and 
unqualified Liberty and Equality are the genuine and orig- 
inal Secrets of Free Masonry, and the ultimatum of a reg- 
ular progress through all its degrees." * He is driven to 
assert that this is not the secret of Masonry as he has 
learned it from other sources. Robison also recognizes dif- 
ferences in the two works respecting the exposition of cer- 
tain Masonic degrees. For his part he is not willing to 
admit that his sources are unreliable. ° 

Barruel, on the other hand, did not get sight of Robison's 
volume until just as his third volume was going to press.* 

' The reference is to the United Irishmen, an organization whose 
affairs got somewhat mixed with the discussion of the Illuminati in 
America. Cf. infra, pp. 271 et seq. 

'A foot-note connects the French minister, Adet, with the Illuminati 
campaign in North America. Cf. ibid., p. 494. 

3 Robison, 0/^. cit, p. 535. 

*Ibid., p. 537- 

5 Ibid., p. 538. 

" Barruel, op. cit., vol. iii, p. xiv. 


He comments in part as follows : " Without knowing it, we 
have fought for the same cause with the same arms, and 
pursued the same course; but the Public are on the eve of 
seeing our respective quotations, and will observe a remark- 
able difference between them." ^ That difference Barruel 
attempts to explain on the ground that Robison had adopted 
the method of combining and condensing his quotations 
from his sources. Besides, he thinks his zealous confederate 
" in some passages . . . has even adopted as truth certain 
assertions which the correspondence of the lUuminees evi- 
dently demonstrate to have been invented by them against 
their adversaries, and which," he continues, " in my His- 
torical Volume I shall be obliged to treat in an opposite 
sense." " Barruel also differs with Robison respecting the 
time of the origin of Masonry.^ But all such matters are of 
slight consequence; all suggestions of opposition and dis- 
agreement between Robison and Barruel are brushed aside 
by him in the following summary fashion : ". . . It will be 
perceived that we are not to be put in competition with each 
other; Mr. Robison taking a general view while I have 
attempted to descend into particulars : as to the substance 
we agree." * 

It was one of the most confident boasts of the supporters 
of the idea of a " conspiracy against thrones and altars " 
that these two writers, Robison and Barruel, had worked at 
the same problem without the knowledge of each other's 
effort, and thus following independent lines of investigation, 
had reached the same conclusion. The merit of the claim 
may safely be left to the reader's judgment. 

1 Barruel, op. cit, vol. iii, p. xiv. 

'Ibid., p. XV. 

^ Ibid., pp. XV, xvi. 

* Ibid., p. xviii. 


The Illuminati Agitation in New England 

i. morse precipitates the controversy 

The fast day proclamation of President John Adams, 
issued March 23, 1798, expressed unusual solemnity and 
concern. Therein the United States was represented as 
" at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive position." ^ 
The necessity of sounding a loud call to repentance and ref- 
ormation was declared to be imperative, and the people were 
fervently urged to implore Heaven's mercy and benediction 
on the imperiled nation. 

On the day appointed, the 9th of May, among the multi- 
tude of pastors who appeared before their assembled flocks 
and addressed them on topics of national and personal self- 
examination, was the Reverend Jedediah Morse. The de- 
liverance which he made to his people^ was destined to 
have far more than a passing interest and effect. He took 
for his text fragments of the language that King Hezekiah 
addressed to the prophet Isaiah, as found in II Kings 19: 
3, 4: " This is a day of trouble, and of rebuke (or revil- 
ing) , and blasphemy. . . . Wherefore lift up thy prayer 
for the remnant that is left." Then the well-known minister 
of Charlestown proceeded to suggest a parallel between the 
desperate state of affairs within the little kingdom of Judah 
when the Assyrians, fresh from their triumph over the 

' TfK Works of John Adams, vol. ix, pp. 169 et seq. 
" Cf. supra, p. 10. 

229] 229 


armies of Egypt, renewed their insolent and terrifying 
campaign against the city of Jerusalem, and the unhappy 
and perilous condition of affairs within the United States/ 
From this general observation Morse proceeded to take 
specific account of the circumstances that made the period 
through which the nation was passing " a day of trouble, 
of reviling and blasphemy." The main source from which 
the day of trouble had arisen, as the President's fast day 
proclamation had indicated, was the very serious aspect of 
our relations with France, owing to the unfriendly disposi- 
tion and conduct of that nation. Here, and not elsewhere, 
was to be found the occasion of the unhappy divisions that 
existed among the citizens of the United States, disturbing 
their peace, and threatening 4he overthrow of the govern- 
ment itself/ The settled policy of the French government, 
that of attempting the subjugation of other countries by 
injecting discord and division among their citizens before 
having recourse to arms, had been faithfully adhered to 
with respect to America. 

Their too great influence among us has been exerted vigor- 
ously, and in conformity to a deep-laid plan, in cherishing 
party spirit, in vilifying the men we have, by our free suffrages, 
elected to administer our Constitution; and have thus en- 
deavoured to destroy the confidence of the people in the con- 
stituted authorities, and divide them from' the government.' 

^ A Sermon, Delivered at the New North Church in Boston, in 
the morning, and in the afternoon at Charlestown, May gth, 1798, being 
the day recommended by John Adams, President of the United States 
of America, for solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer. By Jedidiah 
Morse, D. D., minister of the congregation in Charlestown, Boston, 
1798, pp. 5-12- 

^Ibid., p. 13. 

* Morse was one of those New Englan'd clergymen whose earlier 
enthusiasm for the French Revolution had been pronounced. In a 
sermon preached on the occasion- of the national thanksgiving of 179S, 


They have abused our honest friendship for their nation, our 
gratitude for their assistance in our revolution and our confi- 
dence in the uprightness and sincerity of their professions of 
regard for us ; and, by their artifices and intrigues, have made 
these amiable dispositions in the unsuspecting American 
people, the vehicles of their poison.^ 

Emboldened by its knowledge of the power which the 
French party in America has acquired, Morse continued, the 
government of France has shown itself disposed to adopt 
an increasingly insolent tone toward the government of this 
nation. The insurrections which the government of France 
has fomented here, its efforts to plunge the United States 
into a ruinous war, its spoliation of our commerce upon the 
high seas, its insufferable treatment of our ministers and 
commissioners as shown in the lately published state 
papers ^ — these all tend to show how resolute and confident 
in its determination to triumph over us the French govern- 
ment has become.' 

If, said Morse, a contributory cause for the present 
"hazardous and afflictive position" of the country is sought, 

he confessed his profound interest in the French cause, on account 
of what that people had accomplished in breaking the chains of civil 
and ecclesiastical tyranny. At the same time he voiced his concern 
because a spirit of vandalism had lately arisen im France, by which all 
the salutary results of the Revolution were gravely imperiled. Still, his 
hopes for the recovery of the nation's self-control were strong. Cf. 
The Present Situation of Other Nations of the World, Contrasted 
with our Own. A Sermon, delivered at Charlestown, in the Common- 
wealth of Massachusetts, February ip, 1795; being the day recommended 
by George Washington, President of the United States of America, 
for Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer. By Jedidiah IMorse, D. D., 
minister of the congregation in Charlestown, Boston, 179s, pp. 10-16. 
Cf. also the Preface to Morse's Fast Day Sermon of April 25, I799- 

1 Morse, Sermon on the National Fast, May 9, 1798, p. 13. 

'The X. Y. Z. despatches. 

^ Morse, Sermon on the National Fast, May 9, 1798, pp. 14 et seq. 


it will readily be found in " the astonishing increase of 
irreligion." ' The evidence of this, in turn, is to be found, 
not only in the prevailing atheism and materialism of the 
day, and all the vicious fruits which such impious senti- 
ments have borne, but as well in the slanders with which 
newspapers are filled and the personal invective and abuse 
with which private discussion is laden, all directed against 
the representatives of government, against men, many of 
whom have grown gray in their country's service and 
whose integrity has been proved incorruptible. It is like- 
wise to be discovered in the reviling and abuse which, 
coming from the same quarter, has been directed against 
the clergy, who, according to their influence and ability, 
have done what they could to support and vindicate the 
government. Nothing that the clergy has done has been of 
such a character as to provoke this treatment. And how 
" can they be your friends who are continually declaiming 
against the Clergy, and endeavouring by all means — by 
falsehood and misrepresentation, to asperse their characters, 
and to bring them and their profession into disrepute?" ^ 

When the question is raised respecting the design and 
tendency of these things, their inherent and appalling im- 
piety is immediately disclosed. They give " reason to sus- 
pect that there is some secret plan in operation, hostile to 
true liberty and religion, which requires to be aided by these 
vile slanders." * They cannot be regarded as mere excres- 
cences of the life of the times ; they are not detached hap- 
penings ; they go straight down to the roots of things ; they 
are deadly attacks upon the civil and religious institutions 
whose foundations were laid by our venerable forefathers. 
They mean that all those principles and habits which were 

■■ Morse, op. cit, p. 17. 
' Ibid., p. 19. 
'Ibid., p. 20. 


formed under those institutions are to be brought into 
contempt and eventually swept aside, in order to give a 
clear field " for the spread of those disorganizing opinions, 
and that atheistical philosophy, which are deluging the Old 
World in misery and blood." ^ 

That this preparatory work has begun, that progress in 
the direction of its fatal completion has been made, that 
what is now going on in America is part of the same deep- 
laid and extensive plan which has been in operation in 
Europe for many years — these, Morse continued, are rea- 
sonable and just fears in the light of the disclosures made 
" in a work written by a gentleman of literary eminence in 
Scotland, within the last year, and just reprinted in this 
country, entitled, ' Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the 
Religions and Governments of Europe '." ^ The following 
facts are brought to the light of day in this volume : For 
more than twenty years past a society called The Illumi- 
nated has been in existence in Germany ; its express aim is 
" to root out and abolish Christianity, and overthrow all 

1 Morse, op. cit., p. 20. 

' Morse's first acquaintance with Robison's volume is thus explained 
by him : " The first copies which were sent to America, arrived at 
Philadelphia and New York, at both which places the re-printing of it 
was immediately undertaken, and the Philadelphia edition was com- 
pleted ready for sale in the short space of 3 weeks. This was about 
the middle of April. Happening at this time to be in Philadelphia, 
and hearing the work spoken' of in terms of the highest respect by 
men of judgment, one of them went so far as to pronounce it the most 
interesting work that the present century had produced; I was in- 
duced to procure a copy, which I brought home with me. . . ." {Inde- 
pendent Chronicle, June 14, 1798.) In Sprague's Life of Jedediah 
Morse, pp. 233 et seq., it is affirmed that Dr. Erskine, one of Morse's 
Scottish correspondents, wrote Morse in January, 1797, informing him 
of the alarm which had sprung up in Europe with respect to the 
" conspiracy ", and calling attention to Robison's volume which was 
then being prepared for the press. 


civil government " ; ^ it approves of such atrocious prin- 
ciples as the right to commit self-murder and the promis- 
cuous intercourse of the sexes, while it condemns the prin- 
ciples of patriotism and the right to accumulate private 
property ; ^ in the prosecution of its infamous propaganda 
it aims to enlist the discontented, to get control of all such 
cultural agencies as the schools, literary societies, news- 
papers, writers, booksellers, and postmasters ; * it is bent 
upon insinuating its members into all positions of distinc- 
tion and influence, whether literary, civil, or religious/ 

Practically all of the civil and ecclesiastical establish- 
ments of Europe have already been shaken to their foun- 
dations by this terrible organization; the French Revolu- 
tion itself is doubtless to be traced to its machinations ; the 
successes of the French armies are to be explained on the 
same ground." The Jacobins are nothing more nor less than 
the open manifestation of the hidden system of the Illu- 
minati.* The order has its branches established and its 
emissaries at work in America/ Doubtless the " Age of 
Reason and the other works of that unprincipled author " 
are to be regarded as part of the general plan to accomplish 
universal demoralization: the fact that Paine's infamous 
works have been so industriously and extensively circu- 
lated in this country would seem to justify fully this con- 
clusion.* The affiliated Jacobin Societies in America have 

^ Moise, Sermon on the National Fast, May 9, 1798, p. 21. 

2 Ibid. 

2 Ibid., pp. 22 et seq. 

* Ibid., p. 23. 
= Ibid. 

" Ibid., p. 24. 

' Robison's reference to the " several " societies established in America 
pievious to 1786 (c/. supra, p. 210) is specifically referred to. Cf. 
Sermon on the National Fast, May 9, 1798, p. 23. 

* Ibid., p. 24. 


doubtless had as the object of their establishment the prop- 
agation of " the principles of the illuminated mother club 
in France." ^ 

Before making room for the admonitions which Morse 
based upon this exposition of the underlying significance of 
" this . . . day of trouble, . . . rebuke . . . and blasphemy," 
his treatment of the Masonic bearings of the subject 
should be noticed. As delivered by Morse, the fast day 
sermon of May 9, 1798, contained no reference to the rela- 
tions alleged to exist between the Order of the Illuminati 
and the lodges of Freemasonry. The Charlestown pastor's 
silence upon this important phase of the matter is best ex- 
plained in the light of the pains which he took, when the 
sermon was committed to type, to handle this delicate and 
embarrassing aspect of the case.^ 

Extended foot notes dealing with the omitted topic and 
expressive of great reserve and caution comprise a substan- 
tial part of the printed sermon. In these Morse repeated the 
charge which Robison had made before him that the Order 
of the Illuminati had had its origin among the Freemasons, 
but hastened to add that this was because of corruptions 
which had crept into Freemasonry, so that Illuminism must 
be viewed as " a vile and pestiferous scion grafted on the 
stock of simple Masonry." * As if further to ward off the 
blows of incensed and resentful members of the craft, 
Morse proceeded to dilate upon the artifice which men of 

1 Morse, op. cit., p. 24. 

"Morse had been at pains in his sermon to recommenid Robison's 
volume as throwing a flood of light upon " the causes which have 
brought the world into its present disorganized state." {Ibid., pp. 
24 et seq.) Later it must have occurred to him that the silence he 
had maintained in the pulpit respecting Masonry's part in the con- 
spiracy was bound to be noticed by all who upon his recommendation 
read Robison's volume: 

'Ibid., p. 21. 


wicked purpose commonly resort to in attempting " to 
pervert and bend into a subserviency to their designs 
ancient and respectable institutions." ^ The Illuminati, it is 
suggested, may thus have taken advantage of the schisms 
and corruptions with which European Masonry has been 
cursed, and have employed many members of the lodges to 
serve as " secret conductors of their poisonous principles " : 
the high estimation in which the order of Masonry is gen- 
erally held may be construed as making such a presumption 
probable.^ And in this country, if one may base his judg- 
ment upon the considerations that the immortal Washing- 
ton stands at the head of the Masonic fraternity in America 
and that the Masons of New England " have ever shown 
themselves firm and decided supporters of civil and relig- 
ious order," then it may safely be assumed that the leaven 
of Illuminism has not found its way into the American 
lodges, at least not into the lodges of the Eastern States.* 
If it should be found true that some of the branches of 
Masonry have been corrupted and perverted from their 
original design, need that circumstance occasion more seri- 
ous humiliation and embarrassment than Christians face as 
they contemplate the apostacies of which certain churches 
in Christendom have been guilty?* Finally, the readers 
are urged to keep in mind that Robison's book has been 
commended, not because of its animadversions upon Free- 
masonry, but for the reason that " it unveils the dark con- 

1 Morse, op. cit., p. 21. 

2 Ibid., p. 22. 

2 Ibid., pp. 21, 22. For the time being Morse was content to follow 
the example of Robison. The latter, in his discussion of English 
Freemasonry, made a fairly sharp distinction' between the English 
system and the Masonic systems of the continent. That distinction, 
on the whole, was decidedly favorable to English Freemasonry. By 
every consideration of precedent and prudence Morse must have felt 
strongly impelled to pursue the same course. 

* Ibid., p. 22. 


spiracies of the Illuminati against civil government and 
Christianity, . . . and because it is well calculated to ex- 
cite in this country a just alarm for the safety and welfare 
of our civil and religious privileges, by discovering to us 
the machinations which are employed to subvert them." ^ 

Thus having canvassed the situation abroad and at home, 
the sermon drew toward its close in the following manner : 

By these awful events — this tremendous shaking among the 
nations of the earth, God is doubtless accomplishing his prom- 
ises, and fulfilling the prophecies. This wrath and violence of 
men against all government and religion, shall be made ulti- 
mately, in some way or other, to praise God. All corruptions, 
in religion and government, as dross must, sooner or later, be 
burnt up. The dreadful fire of Illwminatism may be permitted 
to rage and spread for this purpose. . . . But while we con- 
template these awful events in this point of view, let us be- 
ware, in our expressions of approbation, of blending the end 
with the means. Because atheism and licentiousness are em- 
ployed as instruments, by divine providence, to subvert and 
overthrow popery and despotism, it does not follow that athe- 
ism and licentiousness are in themselves good things, and 
worthy of our approbation. While the storm rages, with 
dreadful havoc in Europe, let us be comforted in the thought, 
that God directeth it, and that he will, by his power and wis- 
dom, so manage it, as to make it accomplish his own gracious 
designs. While we behold these scenes acting abroad, and at 
a distance from us, let us be concerned for our own welfare. 
. . . We have reason to tremble for the safety of our polit- 
ical, as well as our religious ark. Attempts are making, and 
are openly, as well as secretly, conducted, to undermine the 
foundations of both. In this situation of things, our duty is 
plain, and lies within a short compass.^ 

With one heart, as citizens to cleave to the national gov- 
ernment and as Christians to be alert to the open and secret 

1 Morse, op. cit., p. 25. ^ Ibid., pp. 25 et seq. 


dangers which threaten the church, these, according to the 
last word of the preacher, were the paramount concerns of 
the hour. 

Such was Jedediah Morse's fast day sermon of May 9, 
1798. Such at least it was when it came from the press; 
surely not even by the widest stretch of the imagination an 
epoch-making sermon; not even notable, except when 
viewed from a single angle. Nothing could be clearer than 
that the sermon moved, for the most part, well within the 
circle of conventional ideas to which on state occasions the 
minds of the clergy of New England generally made re- 
sponse. But for the introduction of one element it is safe 
to say the deliverance of Charlestown's minister would have 
passed for one of the ordinary " political sermons " of the 
day, and so have accomplished nothing perhaps beyond 
helping to swell the chorus of protests from disgusted 
Democrats against " political preaching." That element, 
needless to say, was Illuminism. 

The public sanction which Morse gave to the charge that 
the Illuminati were responsible for the afflictions of both 
the Old World and the New was a new note on this side of 
the Atlantic. Sounded in New England at a time when 
Europe was in convulsion and when the shift from tradi- 
tional social, political, and religious positions in America 
was extremely rapid in its movement, this new alarm could 
not fail to arrest attention. We have seen that the air of 
New England was already surcharged with notions of im- 
placable hostility to the forces in control of church and 
state, ^ and with gloomy forebodings born of surmises of 
intrigue and conspiracy.^ The hour was electric. The 
hard-pressed forces of religious and political conservatism 
were bound to receive the new shibboleth with unquestion- 

1 Cf. supra, ch. i, 2. 

2 Cf. supra, pp. I2S et seq. 


ing and eager joy. Henceforth their arsenal would be en- 
larged to include a new weapon. They would be able to 
point to the villainies, impieties, and blood-lettings in Europe, 
to the flauntings, contumelies, and crafty counter-manoeu- 
verings which the clergy and the heads of government had 
to suffer in America, and assert that back of all these and 
binding all together into a single vicious whole was a con- 
spiracy whose object was nothing less than the complete 
overthrow of civil government and orthodox Qiristianity. 
To be able to brand political and religious radicalism with a 
word as detestable as this new word " Illuminism " which 
had just come across the Atlantic, should indeed prove 
sufficient to damn that cause. 

The immediate effect produced by the sermon fell con- 
siderably short of a sensation. For one thing the subject 
of the lUuminati was new and unfamiliar in New England. 
Much more significant, however, is the fact that at the time 
the sermon came to public attention, the long-expected 
X.Y.Z. despatches were passing through the newspaper 
presses of the country and inflaming the national spirit to 
an incredible degree. In view of the fact that innumerable 
public assemblies were being held and innumerable patriotic 
addresses drawn up and presented to the President, all in- 
spired by the prospect of and the demand for an immediate 
rupture with France, it is not surprising that the minister 
of Charlestown did not succeed in creating a more instant 
and widespread alarm than he did. 

However, he had no reason to be disappointed. The spark 
which he had communicated to the tinder might seem to 
smoulder for a season,^ but in due course it was bound to 

1 The editor of as loyal and resourceful a Federalist sheet as the 
Columbian Centinel. for example, insisted upon treating as a whole 
the performances of the clergy on the occasion of the national fast, 
and refused to make discriminations with respect to the special import 
or merit of any particular minister's performance : " Wednesday last 


burst into flame. That Morse was himself well content with 
the degree of interest which the public manifested in his 
disclosure of the " conspiracy " is evident from the follow- 
ing letter that he addressed to Oliver Wolcott, within a 
fortnight of the date of the national fast : 

Charlestown, May 21, 1798. 
Dear Sir, 

I enclose for your acceptance my Fast Sermon, & one on 
the death of my worthy friend Judge Russell, both whh. 
together with one other occasional discourse, besides two com- 
mon sermons, I was obliged to compose after my return from 
Phila., and under the disadvantage of general fatigue. — I owe 
you and myself this apology. — The fast discourse was received 
with very unexpected approbation — & with no opposition even 
in 'Charlestown, whose citizens many of them have been the 
most violently opposed tO' the measures of Govt. & the most 
enthusiastic in favor of France. — This same discourse deliv- 
ered two months ago would have excited such a flame, as 
would in all probability have rendered my situation extremely 
unpleasant, if not unsafe. — I hope it has done some good, & 
that it may have a chance of doing more, however small, I 
have permitted its publication. . . . The fast was celebrated 
in this quarter with unexpected solemnity & unanimity. Its 
effects, I hope & believe will be great both as respects our 
civil & religious interests. . . . 

Your friend, 

To Honorable Oliver Wolcott, ^ 

Comptroller of the Treasury. 

was observed throughout the United States as a day of Fasting and 
Prayer. (Within the sphere of our information we can say, that on 
no occasion were there ever exhibited more moral patriotism, and more 
ardent devotion.) The Clergy on this occasioni came forward with 
a zeal which added greatly to the high character they have long 
enjoyed, as Patriots. We could instance numerous traits of Federalism, 
which would do them honour; but when all of them are entitled to 
praise, it would be invidious to make distinctions." (Columbian 
Centinel, May 12, 1798.) 
1 Wolcott Papers, viii, 23. 


Here and there Morse's sermon promptly became the 
occasion of public comment. To illustrate : The Reverend 
John Thayer, beloved and trusted shepherd of the Catholic 
flock in Boston, following the patriotic example of the 
Protestant clergy, preached a sermon on the occasion of the 
national fast appropriate to the solemnity of the day/ In 
the published text of this sermon Thayer took occasion to 
commend Morse " for his interesting abridgement of the 
infernal society of the Illuminati." ^ For the most part, 
however, the comment of the clergy was reserved for sub- 
sequent occasions when the clerical mind should have had 
opportunity to inform itself more fully concerning the 

As for the newspapers, they began to pay their respects 
to Morse's sensational utterance soon after the latter's fast 
day sermon came from the press. Thus " An American " 
contributed an article of generous length and of somewhat 
hostile tone to the Independent Chronicle of May 24 ( 1798) , 
calling upon Morse to substantiate more fully the charge 
he had made. This pseudonymous contributor professed 
to have experienced great astonishment upon reading 
Morse's sermon and finding that Robison's Proofs alone 
had been relied upon as a source of information and 
authority. So serious a matter seemed to demand fuller 
evidence. Thinking that perhaps Dr. Morse had been im- 
posed upon and that the work in question was possibly 
apocryphal, the writer had been constrained to search 
through foreign literary journals with a view to discover- 
ing how the " performance " attributed to Robison was 
regarded abroad. Thus employed he had come across an 

1 A Discourse, Delivered at the Roman Catholic Church in Boston 

on the 9th of May, 1798 By the Reverend John Thayer, Catholic 

Missioner, Boston, 1798. 

^Ibid., p. 23. 


article in The Critical Review, or Annals of Literature, 
London, 1797, wherein he found severe strictures upon 
Robison's volume. In view of this, " since the Doctors of 
Europe and America differ so widely in their estimation of 
its importance," but a single course of honor and obligation 
would seem to be open to Dr. Morse. Having stood sponsor 
for the authenticity of such an extraordinary publication, 
he should now submit to the public decided proofs of the 
authority and correctness of the book in question.^ 

To this sharp challenge of " An American," Morse was 
not indifferent. Replying to his critic in a subsequent issue 
of the Chronicle,^ he expressed the hope that the public 
would not form its judgment respecting Robison's volume 
before reading the same, or at least not until it shall have 
heard further from its " humble servant, Jedidiah Morse." 
Meantime, if his readers shall be pleased to peruse the ob- 
servations clipped from the New York Spectator by which 
his (Morse's) letter to the Chronicle is accompanied they 
will learn that " there is at least one other person in the 
United States who has read this work, [and] whose opin- 
ion of it accords with " his own.' 

A few days later, through the columns of the same paper,* 
Morse replied at greater length to the criticisms which "An 
American " had brought to public attention. That he had 
not " too hastily recommended Professor Robison's late 

' Op. cit. 

'^ Independent Chronicle, May 31, 1798. 

^ Ibid. The " observations " referred to really threw no new light 
upon the situation. They amounted to nothing more than proof 
of the fact that the editor of the New York Spectator had accepted 
the idea of the Illuminati conspiracy. This being the case he was 
anxious to warn his readers that if they would escape from the designs 
of the French government they must make their choice, and that 
speedily,' between " INDEPENDBNCE and SUBMISSION." 

^Independent Chronicle, June 14, 1798. 


work " Morse regards as sufficiently demonstrated by the 
fact that he had had a copy of the book in his possession 
since the middle of the previous April. This he had exam- 
ined with care, and he had satisfied himself that it was en- 
titled to the recommendation he had given it in his fast day 
sermon. So far as the hostile criticism of the authors of 
The Critical Review is concerned, he has no doubt that 
their caricature of Robison's book is to be construed as ex- 
pressive of their determination to destroy its reputation and 
thus prevent its circulation, since it probably exposed and 
thwarted their favorite schemes. Besides, over against the 
contemptuous estimate that the authors of The Critical Re- 
view had seen fit to place upon Robison's volume, Morse 
was able to oppose a very different judgment. The London 
Review of January, 1798, extracts from which he was glad 
to be permitted to offer in evidence,^ placed an estimate 
upon Robison's book which was both accurate and just. 
From this " An American " will be able to gather that 
" ' the Doctors in Europe and America ' " do not " differ 
so widely in their estimation " of the importance of Robi- 
son's volume as had been asserted. The observations that 
Morse is now offering to the public, it is his expectation, 
will serve to effect his personal justification; but if doubts 
still remain in the minds of any, he can only recommend 
as the best and perhaps the only sure means of dissolving 
them that such persons read Proofs of a Conspiracy for 

* The extracts in question boldly championed Robison's cause, and 
while admitting that all the tenets and secret manoeuvers of the 
Illuminati could not be said to have been fully brought to light, Morse 
did not hesitate to draw the following summary conclusion : " There 
is however sufficient known to call forth the indigoation of every 
person who professes to be a friend to religion or virtue, and to put 
every one on their guard who knows and respects the rights of private 
property, and of good government." (Ibid.) 

2 Ibid. 


With respect to the inception of the lUuminati agitation 
in New England, the utterances of two other clergymen 
require attention. One of these, the Reverend David 
Tappan, professor of divinity at Harvard, in a dis- 
course ^ delivered before the senior class of that institution 
on the 19th of June, 1798, cautioned the young people be- 
fore him who were about to quit the life of the college to 
guard against the dangers of speculative principles, the 
pleasures of idleness and vicious indulgence, the degrading 
tendency of selfish sentiments, and " a more recent system, 
which . . . has for its ostensible object the regeneration 


EQUAL LIBERTY." This " more recent system," Tappan 
explained, was the philosophy of the Order of the Illu- 

Drawing, as he professed, upon Morse's fast day dis- 
course and upon President Dwight's sermons on inHdel 
philosophy,^ Tappan essayed a sketch of the objects and 
operations of thelUuminati, from the time of the founding of 
the order by AVeishaupt to its supposed connections with the 
French Revolution, and the successes which it had enabled 
the French armies to accomplish through its intrigues " in 
various and distant parts of the world." The conspiracy, 
it is true, might not be as extensive in its scope as had been 
claimed ; but even so, the undoubted aspects of the sitimtion 
were sufficient to afford ground for most grave apprehen- 

1 A Discourse delivered in the Chapel of Harvard College, June 
jp, I7g8, Occasioned by the Approaching Departure of tlie Senior Class- 
from the University. By David Tappan, D. D., HoUis Professor of 
Divinity in said College, Boston, 1798. 

'/&id., pp. 4-13- 

^ As far as the present writer has been able to discover, President 
Dwight did not deal publicly with the lUuminati charge until a little 
later. Tappan's reference must therefore be to general discussions of 
infidelity, a favorite topic with Yale's president, as we have seen. 


sion. " If these and similar facts," the clergyman con- 
tinued, " do not evince so early and broad a system of 
wickedness as this writer ^ supposes (the truth of which in 
all its extent the speaker is not prepared to support), yet 
they indicate a real and most alarming plan of hostility 
against the dearest interests of man." ^ 

The question of the general credibility of the claims 
which Robison had made, as well as the implication of the 
Masons in the " conspiracy," came in for special considera- 
tion by Tappan when his sermon was prepared for publi- 
cation.* Concerning the former, the observation is made 
that the ridicule and incredulity which have opposed them- 
selves to the report of a scheme so novel, extravagant, and 
diabolical, were to have been expected. At any rate, much 
of the opposition has come from men whose wishes and 
opinions have been offended, or from those who have shown 
themselves to be ardent friends of political and religious 
innovation. And with regard to the Masons, it is urged 
that the displeasure which certain worthy members of that 
fraternity have expressed against Robison ought not to 
be permitted to become so violent as to render impossible a 
candid and thorough examination of the proofs he has sub- 
mitted. Robison's opinion respecting the universal frivolity 
or mischievous tendency of the assemblies of the European 
Masons may be incorrect and injurious, and at the same 
time the leading facts upon which he founds that opinion 
may be true. To manifest a willingness to investigate with 
candor the proofs that have been presented, while continu- 
ing to hold in esteem " the approved characters of the 

^ The reference is to Robison. Whether or not Tappan had personally 
read Robison's volume at this time is not altogether clear. The gen- 
eral impression created by his sermon is that he had. 

2 Cf. Tappan's Sermon, p. 19. 

^ Ibid., pp. 15 et seq. (foot note). 


principal Masons in this country, especially in the Eastern 
States," this, Tappan advises, represents the middle course 
that his readers should attempt to steer/ 

Thus it will appear that Tappan became an echo of Morse. 
As for Timothy Dwight, the contribution he made to the 
awakening of public interest in the subject of Illuminism 
requires somewhat stronger statement. In the person of 
the president of Yale this new idea of a definite and deep- 
laid conspiracy against religion and civil government en- 
countered a highly sensitized mind. Upon the subjects of 
infidelity and the general irreligious tendencies of the times, 
Dwight had been speaking frequently and for years from 
his lecture-desk in the class-room and from his pulpit in the 
church. It is safe to say that among all the men of New 
England no man's spirit was more persistently haunted by 
the fear that the forces of irreligion were in league to work 
general ruin to the institutions of society than his. When, 
therefore, on the occasion of the Fourth of July, 1798, the 
people of New Haven assembled to do honor to the day in 
listening to a sermon by the honored president of their col- 
lege, it was to be expected that if the latter had any new 
information to impart or any new pronouncement to make 
respecting malign efforts that were making to plunge the 
world into irremediable scepticism and anarchy, he would 
seize the occasion that the day offered to arouse in his 
hearers a sense of the new perils which threatened. And 
President Dwight had new information and a new pro- 
nouncement to offer. 

The subject which he chose to discuss on that Independ- 
ence Day, and the text upon the elucidation of which he 
relied for the illumination of the subject, were in themselves 
calculated to excite concern. These were respectively, the 
DUTY OF Americans at the present crisis, and " Be- 

1 Cf. Tappan's Sermon, pp. 15 et seq. (foot note). 


hold I come as a thief : Blessed is he that watcheth, and 
keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his 
shame." (Revelation xvi:i6.)^ Having first explained 
the setting of the text. President Dwight then proceeded to 
define the thesis of his sermon in the following manner: 
" From this explanation it is manifest that the prediction 
consists of two great and distinct parts : the preparation for 
the overthrow of the Antichristian empire; and the embar- 
kation of m^n in a professed and unusual opposition to God, 
and to his kingdom, accomplished by means of false doc- 
trines, and impious teachers." ^ 

The first of these predictions, it was asserted, had been 
fulfilled in the repressive and secularizing measures that 
during the century had operated to weaken greatly the 
Catholic hierarchy and its chief political supports among 
the states of Europe.* The second was experiencing a ful- 

Illustrated in a Discourse, Preached on the Fourth of July, 1798; by the 
Reverend Timothy Dwight, D. D., President of Yale-iCoUege ; at 'the 
request of the citizens of New-Haven. New-Haven, 1798. 

■^ Ibid., p. 8. 

' The elaboration of this point necessarily led to some emphasis upon 
the spirit of irreligion and savage persecution that had thus manifested 
itself, and this in turn necessitated an effort to find a way out of the 
embarrassment of seeming to approve this persecution. The following in- 
genious foot note appended to the text of the published sermon admir- 
ably illustrates the inventive resourcefulness of many a New England 
clergyman of the day who found it necessary to rescue himself from 
such an impasse as Dwight's method of exegesis produced : " In the 
mention of all these evils brought on the 'Romish Hierarchy, I beg it 
may be remembered, that I am far from justifying the iniquitous con- 
duct of their persecutors. I know not that any person holds it, and all 
other persecutions, more in abhorrence. Neither have I a doubt of the 
integrity and piety of multitudes of the unhappy sufferers. In my view 
they claim, and I trust will receive, the commiserationi, and, as occasion 
offers, the kind offices of all men possessed even of common humanity." 
{Ibid., p. 9.) The truth is that in some cases Protestant clergymen in 
New England, out of their concern for Christianity in general, went so 
far as to deprecate the persecutions which Roman Catholicism suffered. 


filment not less remarkable in the open and professed war 
against God and his kingdom, in which Voltaire, Frederick 
II, the Encyclopedists, and the Societies of the Illuminati 
had confederated.^ 

This systematical design to destroy Christianity, which 
Voltaire and his accomplices formed, found its first expres- 
sions in the compilation of the EncyclopSdie, the formation 
of a new sect of philosophers to engineer the assaults upon 
the church, the prostitution of the French Academy to the 
purposes of this sect, and the dissemination of infidel books 
and other publications, all of which were so prepared " as to 
catch the feelings, and steal upon the approbation, of every 
class of men." ^ Eventually the labors of this group of 
men and their disciples were widened so as to include not 
only religion but morality and civil government as well, with 
the object in view of unhinging " gradually the minds of 
men, and destroying their reverence for everything hereto- 
fore esteemed sacred." ' 

Simultaneously the Masonic Societies of France and 
Germany had been drawn away from the pursuit of the ob- 
jects of friendly and convivial intercourse for which they 
were originally instituted, to the employment of their secret 
assemblies in the discussion of " every novel, licentious, and 
alarming opinion "* that innovators and other restless spirits 
might choose to advance. Thus, 

Minds already tinged with philosophism were here speedily 
blackened with a deep and deadly die; and those which came 
fresh and innocent to the scene of contamination became early 

' Dwight offered as his sources of authority Robison's Proofs and an 
article on Barruel's Memoirs of Jacobinism which he had discovered in 
the British Critic. 

''■Cf. Dwight's Sermon, p. 11. 


' lUd. 


and irremediably corrupted. ... In these hot beds were sown 
the seeds of that astonishing Revolution, and all its dreadful 
appendages, which now spreads dismay and horror throughout 
half the globe. ^ 

The Society of the Illuminati, springing up at this time 
and professing itself to be a higher order of Freemasonry, 
availed itself of the secrecy, solemnity, and mysticism of 
Masonry, of its system of correspondence, to teach and 
propagate doctrines calculated to undermine and destroy all 
human happiness and virtue. Thus God's being was de- 
rided, while government was pronounced a curse, civil soci- 
ety an apostasy of the race, the possession of private prop- 
erty a robbery, chastity and natural affection groundless 
prejudices, and adultery, assassination, poisoning and other 
infernal crimes not only lawful but even virtuous.^ To 
crown all, the principle that the end justifies the means was 
made to define the sphere of action for the members of the 

The triumphs of this system of falsehood and horror, 
Dwight continued, have already been momentous. In Ger- 
many " the public faith and morals have been unhinged ; 
and the political and religious affairs of that empire have 
assumed an aspect which forebodes its total ruin." ^ In 
France the affairs of the people have been controlled by the 
representatives of this hellish society. Not only this, but by 
means of the establishment of the order in those countries 
which France has opposed, the French government has 
been able to triumph in its military campaigns and to over- 
throw religion and governments in the countries which have 
been attacked. Neither England nor Scotland have escaped 

1 Cf. Dwight's Sermon, pp. 11, 12. 
^ Ibid., p. 12. 
^Ibid., p. 13. 


the foul contagion; and private papers of the order, seized 
in Germany, testify to the fact that several such societies 
had been erected in America prior to the year 1786.^ 

When the preacher passed to the head of improvement, 
it was therefore natural that he should prescribe as one of 
the " duties " that especially needed to be observed, the 
breaking off all connection with such enemies as had been 
mentioned. The language in which this particular duty was 
enforced certainly did not lack boldness and vigor. 

The sins of these enemies of Christ, and Christians, are of 
numbers and degrees which mock account and description. 
All that the malice and atheism of the Dragon, the cruelty 
and rapacity of the Beast, and the fraud and deceit of the 
false Prophet, can generate or accomplish, swell the list. No 
personal or national interest of man has been uninvaded; no 
impious sentiment, or action, against God has been spared; 
no malignant hostility against Christ, and his religion, has been 
unattempted. Justice, truth, kindness, piety, and moral obli- 
gation universally have been, not merely trodden under foot, 
. . . but ridiculed, spurned, and insulted, as the childish bug- 
bears of drivelling idiocy. Chastity and decency have been 
alike turned out of doors ; and shame and pollution called out 
of their dens to the hall of distinction and the chair of state. 
. . . For what end shall we be connected with men of whom 
this is the character and conduct? Is it that we may assume 
the same character, and pursue the same conduct? Is it that 
our churches may become temples of reason, our Sabbath a 
decade, and our psalms of praise Marsellois [sic] hymns? 

. . Is it that we may see the Bible cast into a bonfire, the 
vessels of the sacramental supper borne by an ass' in public 
procession, and our children, either wheedled or terrified, 
uniting in the mob, chanting mockeries against God, and hail- 
ing in the sounds of Ca ira the ruin of their religion, and the 
loss of their souls? . . . Shall we, my brethren, become par- 

1 Cf. Dwight's Sermon, p. 15. 


tcikers of these sins? Shall we introduce them into our gov- 
ernment, our schools, our families? Shall our sons become 
the disciples of Voltaire, and the dragoons of Marat; or our 
daughters the concubines of the lUuminati ? ^ 

With equally fiery speech, all doubting Thomases are 
urged to 

. . . look for conviction to Belgium; sunk into the dust of in- 
significance and meanness, plundered, insulted, forgotten, 
never to rise more. See Batavia wallowing in the same dust ; 
the butt of fraud, rapacity, and derision, struggling in the last 
stages of life, and searching anxiously to find a quiet grave. 
See Venice sold in the shambles, and made the small change 
of a political bargain. Turn your eyes to Switzerland, and 
behold its happiness and its hopes, cut off at a single stroke, 
happiness erected with the labour and the wisdom of three 
centuries; hopes that not long since hailed the blessings of 
centuries yet to come. What have they spread but crimes and 
miseries; where have they trodden but to waste, to pollute, 
and to destroy ? " 

From these excerpts and this extended survey of Presi- 
dent Dwight's sermon it will readily appear that his espousal 
of the notion that the Illuminati were immediately respon- 
sible for the riotous overturnings and bitter woes of the 
age was as unequivocal as it was vigorous. To this view of 
things he boldly committed himself, and that on a great 
national anniversary occasion when public interest was 
bound to be peculiarly alert. Moreover, the crisis through 
which his country was passing had seemed to him to require 
that his countrymen should especially be put on their guard 
respecting this new peril which threatened. Though he had 
been silent respecting personal observations and evidence of 

1 Cf. Dwight's Sermon, pp. 20, 21. 
- Ibid., p. 22. 


his own bearing on the operations of this infamous organ- 
ization in the United States, nevertheless he had given his 
hearers to understand that he accepted at its face value Robi- 
son's statement regarding the existence of the Order of the 
Illuminati in this country. Here, then, was a man high in the 
councils of the church, '^ of education, and the state, lending 
the full weight of his personality and his office to this fresh 
and startling explanation of the true cause of the agitations 
and disorders of the day." The undoubted effect was to 
give more solid standing to the sensational charge that 
Jedediah Morse had made. 

But preachers were not the only public characters who 
early caught up and echoed the new alarm. Orators, too, 
lent the aid of their voices in an effort to persuade the 
people that their liberties and institutions were in danger of 
a deadly thrust from this new quarter. A number of these, 
on the Fourth of July just referred to, delivered themselves 
of sentiments similar to those which President Dwight ex- 
pressed. Thus at Sharon, Connecticut, the orator of the 

' The commanding position that Dwight occupied in the Standing 
Order, as well as the unenviable distinction which in the eyes of the 
opposition belonged to him, is certified to by the fact that he was com- 
monly referred to as " Pope Dwight." Cf. Beecher, Autobiography, 
Correspondence, et£., vol. i, p. 289. Cf. iStiles, Diary, vol. ii, p. 531. 

'The Connecticut Journal of July 11, 1798, comments as follows upon 
New Haven's celebration of the previous Fourth : " The exercises of 
the day at the Meeting-house were a Sermon by President Dwight, 
from the i6th chapter of Revelations, isth verse, accompanied with 
prayers. An Oration by Noah Webster, jun., Esq., and sundry pieces 
of excellent music. We forbare [sic] to remark particularly on the 
Sermon and Oration, as the public eye will be speedily gratified in 
perusing them. . . . We shall only say that an enlightened audience, 
composed of the citizens of New-Haven, the members of our univer- 
sity, and many clergymen, civilians, and other respectable inhabitants 
from the adjacent towns, listened with profound attention while Doct. 
Dwight and Mr. Webster exposed to their view, in a feeling manner, 
those principles of modem philosophy which desolate Europe, and 
threaten the universe with mighty evils." 


day, a certain John C. Smith, supplied a new thrill to his 
patriotic address by informing his hearers that the French 
Revolution was the result 

chiefly of a combination long since founded in Europe, by In- 
fidels and Atheists, to root out and effectually destroy Religion 
and Civil Government, — not this or that creed of religion, — 
not this or that form of government, — in this or that partic- 
ular country, — but all religion, — all government, — and that 
through the world. ^ 

At Hartford, Theodore Dwight, brother to Yale's presi- 
dent, publicly averred it was a fact well ascertained that the 
French Revolution " was planned by a set of men whose 
avowed object was the overthrow of Altars and Thrones, 
that is, the destruction of all Religion and Government." * 
At the midnight orgies of the " modern Illuminati " the 
plan had been conceived and nourished. For six years past, 
the orator declared, the government of France has been 
directed by men who have been schooled in that society of 
demons.^ In the same city, and on the same occasion, an- 
other voice was raised to declaim against the reckless im- 

* An Oration, pronounced at Sharon, on the Anniversary of Amer- 
ican Independence, 4th of 'July, 1798. By John C. Smith, Litchfield, 
(n. d.), pp. 6 et seq. Cf. ibid., pp. 7 et seq. 

' Theodore Dwight: An Oration spoken at Hartford, in the State of 
Connecticut, on the Anniversary of American Independence, July 4th, 
1798. Hartford, 1798, p. 23^ 

' Ibid. On a later page, in commenting upon Robison's reference 
in his Proofs of a Conspiracy to the lodges of the Illuminati which 
had been established in America, Dwight said : " I know not who be- 
longed to that society in this country ; but if I were about to make prose- 
lytes to illuminatism in the United States, I should in the first place 
apply to Thomas Jefferson, Albert Gallatin, and their political asso- 
ciates." {Ibid., p. 30.) This early use of the outcry against the Illu- 
minati for political purposes was prophetic. 


piety of French partisans in the United States/ These con- 
spiring men, so this orator somewhat vaguely declared, are 
said to have substituted the wild dogmas of infidel phil- 
osophy for the benevolent principles of Christianity. They 
have adopted " a philosophy originating in wickedness, 
founded in error, and subversive of the peace and happiness 
of society." ^ 

From this early handling of the subject by clergymen 
and orators, we are now called away to consider a signifi- 
cant exposition of the matter in the columns of a Boston 
newspaper. To the issue of the Massachusetts Mercury of 
July 27, 1798, "Censor" contributed an article that was 
destined to have important bearings on the course of public 
discussion. Professing a spirit of reasonable moderation, 
" Censor " offered the practical suggestion that the time 
had come to inquire what evidence Professor Robison pos- 
sessed respecting the authenticity of his sources. " At this 
distance," he urged, " it is impossible to decide on the truth 
of his assertions, or the respectability of his testimonies." 
Yet the writer had had his attention drawn to certain 
evidences of prejudice, misrepresentation, and imrestrained 
imagination on the part of Robison which tended to de- 
stroy confidence in his judgment. Dr. Morse, too, he con- 
tinued, on the unsupported assertion of an individual three 
thousand miles distant, to the effect that several lodges 
of the Illuminati had been established in America prior to 
'86, in his fast sermon had seen fit to declare that the 
Illuminati were here, that they had made considerable prog- 
ress among us, and that to them were to be traced the tor- 

1 An Oration on Party Spirit, Pronounced before the Connecticut 
Society of Cincinnati, convened at Hartford, for the celebration of 
American Independence, on the 4th of July, 1798. By Thomas Day, 
(n. d.), p. IS. 

' Ibid. 


rent of irreligion and the abuse of everything good and 
praiseworthy which threatens to overwhelm the world. 
For all these assertions, " Censor " inquired, where were 
the evidences ? ^ 

The tone of " Censor's " article was decidedly hostile. 
The spirit of cynicism and distrust had lifted its head, not 
apologetically but boldly. The evidence in the case was 
called for. To Jedediah Morse, original and chief sponsor 
for the outcry against the Illuminati, it must have seemed 
clear that the obligation of meeting the issue thus joined 
rested squarely upon his own shoulders. Nor was he 
minded to evade responsibility. And thus it happened that 
the columns of the Massachusetts Mercury, for some weeks 
to come,^ carried a succession of articles over Morse's 

^ That " Censor's " tone of moderation was assumed and not genuine 
is further evinced by his assertion of contempt for Robison's absurd 
supposition that the Illuminati had kindled the French Revolution and 
for his " unjustifiable attacks upon certain worthy characters." If the 
lUumiiiati had never existed the Revolution would have occurred on 
account of the arbitrary and excessive despotism of the old French 
government, the insupportable weight of taxation, the luxury and 
dissipation of the nobility and clergy, the prohibition of free religious 
and political discussion, and the dissemination of liberal sentiments 
during the previous fifty years. That iRobison, without sufficient war- 
rant, should have attacked such characters as " the worthy La Fayette," 
"the venerable Duke de Rochefoucault," Dr. Priestley, et aL, caused 
his book to appear as one born of "incorrigible prejudices, acting upon 
an inflamed imagination.'' As for the author of the fast day sermon, 
he may judge for himself whether he was too hasty in recommending 
such a book to the public. The times may be full of peril, but surely 
this does not justify those who terrify their fellow citizens by means 
of groundless alarms. One's fellow citizens also need to be put on 
their guard against the danger of becoming " the dupes of every fool- 
ish tale which the prejudices or ignorance of Europeans may fabricate." 
Such were further comments by "Censor." Cf. Day, op. cit. 

' These articles began in the issue of the Mercury for August 3, and 
were continued through the issues of August 10, 14, 17, 21, 28, and 31. 
Because of an effort which the Reverend Josiah Bartlett made to ab- 
solve the Masons of this country of the suspicion that had been cast 


signature, all laboring to prove that the judgment their 
author had passed upon Robison's volume had not been 
hasty, but was well grounded in reason. To these articles, 
rambling and inconclusive as they were, we must now de- 
vote attention. 

Expressing first his gratitude that Professor Robison's 
Proofs of a Conspiracy had attracted the attention of so 
large and respectable a portion of the commuriity, Morse 
thereupon professed surprise that his own commenda- 
tion of that work in his late fast day sermon should have 
exposed him to the necessity of vindicating both the author 
of the Proofs and his own composition.^ He had assumed 
that every reader of Robison's production would be im- 
pressed as he had been with the evidence of the author's 
talents, views, candor, and integrity. The sensitiveness and 
irritation which members of the Masonic fraternity had 
shown had also astonished him. His hope had been that 
the notes by which his published fast day sermon had been 
accompanied would forestall censure from that quarter. 
However the necessity to vindicate Professor Robison and 
his book had been imposed upon him, and that he would 
proceed to do. He would first introduce extracts from his 
fast day sermon to show that he had recommended Robi- 
son's book, not because of any observations unfavorable to 
the Masons which it contained, but for the sole reason that 
it exposed the dark conspiracies of the Illuminati against 
civil government and Christianity. - 

The vindication of Professor Robison's character and 

upon them, they found a certain continuation in the issues of the 
Mercury for September 7, 14, 18, 21 ; but these are reserved for the 
special treatment of the Masonic aspects of the case. Cf. infra, pp. 
330 et seq. 

1 Massachusetts Mercury, Aug. 3, 1798. 

2 Ibid. 


reputation as a man and writer was next undertaken. 
These points Morse considered to be fully established by the 
positions that Robison occupied as Secretary of the Royal 
Society of Edinburgh and Professor of Natural Philosophy 
in one of the best universities of the world. If further 
proof should be required, the contributions that Robison 
had made to the Encyclopedia Britcmnica certainly vouched 
for his respectability and prominence. Beyond this Morse 
could go no further than to add that private advices which 
had come to him from one of his foreign correspondents, 
the Reverend Dr. Erskine, of Edinburgh, fully confirmed 
the reputation of the Scotch professor.^ 

But since it was likely to be remarked in this instance 
that " great men are not always wise," Morse proposed to 
deal next with the marks of the book's credibility. As to 
external marks, the approbation and support of the book by 
very respectable men in England and Scotland, and its ap- 
proval and recommendation by clergymen and laymen of 
discernment and ability in America, he argued, were to be 
weighed as impressive considerations." If by way of re- 
joinder it should be urged that the English reviewers were 
not of one mind respecting the merits of the book, then his 
reply would be that having read on both sides of the contro- 
versy that had been waged in the English journals, he had 
been forced to the conclusion that " the balance of candor 
and truth are [sic] clearly on the side of those who are in 
favor of Professor Robison, and give credit to his work." ° 

1 Massachusetts Mercury, Aug. 3, 1798. 

^Ibid., Aug. 10. 

' Ibid. In this connection Morse seeks to extract comfort from the 
fact that the editors of the British Critic, having compared Robison's 
Proofs and Barruel's Memoirs of Jacobinism, have recorded their ver- 
dict that the two virorks are highly confirmatory of each other, " barring 
certain unimportant particulars." He likewise observes that the marks 
of precipitation and certain faults of style and expression which some 


Respecting the favorable reception which the book had been 
accorded in America, he was glad to be privileged to point 
to the sentiments of Professor Tappan,^ President Dwight,* 
and Theodore Dwight, Esq/ It is true that in America the 
book had excited warm, even virulent opposition; but cer- 
tainly it had received respectable support, " such as ought 
to exempt any person from the charge of weakness or 
credulity who believes it authentic." * 

An effort to marshal the internal evidence of the book's 
credibility is next promised by Morse/ This anticipation 
remained a promise, however, for the disingenuous reason 
that Morse offered that a book which has met such a flatter- 
ing reception as Robison's Proofs absolves its friends and 

of the impartial English reviewers have been able to point out, have 
yet not been allowed to alter their judgment that the book as a whole 
is a credit to its author, and contains much valuable information. The 
clamor that has arisen against the book, Morse insists, is to be traced to 
the hostility of men who have been incensed because their secrets have 
been exposed. At this point it may be said in passing that Morse 
allowed himself to be drawn into the expression of a sentiment, gratui- 
tous ini its nature, which served to precipitate the very thing he had 
been anxious to avoid, viz., a break with the Masons. Irritated by his 
critics, he wrote : " The Free Masons can not be angry with him [Robi- 
son]. ... If therefore amy are really angry here, it must be because he 
has touched and exposed their secret friends." 

' The reference is tO' Professor Tappan's sermon before the senior 
class of Harvard. Cf. supra, pp. 244 et seq. 

2 In this instance the reference is not to President Dwight's Fourth of 
July sermon: that sermon had not yet been seen by Morse; but to an 
allusion made by Dwight to Robison's book in a note appended to the 
following pamphlet: The Nature and Danger of InAdel Philosophy. 
Two Discourses, to the Candidates for the Baccalaureate, in Yale Col- 
lege, September 9, 1797. . . . New-Haven, 1798. Cf. Massachusetts 
Mercury, Aug. 17, 179S. 

3 Theodore Dwight's Fourth of July oration is referred to. Cf. 
supra, pp. 246 et seq. 

* Massachusetts Mercury, Aug. 17, 1798. 
» Ibid., Aug. 21, 1798. 


supporters of the necessity of defending its contents as well 
as the authenticty of the documents from which it has been 
drawn. The burden of proof rests upon those who have 
nothing to offer against the work in question but bold 
assertions, contemptuous sneers, and vilifying epithetg/ 
Professor Robison's critics have failed to take sufficient 
account of the fact that he was engaged in a delicate and 
arduous undertaking. He was attempting to unveil a deep 
and dark conspiracy.^ It is not pretended that all the links 
in the chain of evidence have been discovered; nor is it 
claimed that there has been an entire absence of confusion, 
disconnection, and imperfection in the work of ferreting 
out the conspiracy. But certainly enough has been accom- 
plished to merit confidence in the effort, and to justify 
serious alarm on the part of the friends of the civil and 
religious interests of the country.* 

1 Massachusetts Mercury, Aug. 21, 1798. Morse's article in this issue 
of the Mercury, perhaps more discursive and less convincing than any- 
thing he had previously written on the general subject, at various points 
descends to the level of abuse, in which Robison's hostile English 
reviewers, the iReverend William Bentley (for reasons that will appear 
later) , and " Censor " are made to share. 

^Massachusetts Mercury, Aug. 28, 1798. In explanation of the 
delicacy and difficulty of such a task as Robison's, Morse offered to his 
readers the following: "The schemes and views of Conspirators aro 
often veiled in language and signs intelligible only to themselves; they 
correspond under fictitious names ; their papers are sparingly multiplied, 
artfully detached, and most cautiously concealed." {Ibid.) The apolo- 
getic motive is evident. 

3 Ibid. With a " summary account " of the documents upon which 
Robison had relied in the composition of his book and of which 
Morse had no first-hand knowledge, and with an examination of the 
alleged differences between the accounts of the " conspiracy " by Robi- 
son and Barruel (c/. ibid., Aug. 31, 1798), Morse's prolix discussion of 
the subject came to a close. During the time that his articles were in 
process of publication, " Censor " contributed a fresh article to the 
Mercury, admitting that his faith in the existence of the European 
Illuminati was growing, but still protesting that Robison was to be 


This, it need scarcely be said, did not amount to a satis- 
factory handling of the case. In truth, from the stand- 
point of the main issue involved, viz., the reliability of 
Robison's " proofs," it was little more than so much dust 
thrown into the air. Evidence had been asked for. In its 
place arguments, and it must be confessed very inconclusive 
arguments at that, were submitted. The vital questions in 
the case had scarcely been touched. Were the Illuminati 
still in existence? If so, did they actually aim at the uni- 
versal overthrow of religion and civil government? Was 
the French Revolution the result of their machinations? 
More momentous still to the interests of Americans, had 
the net of conspiracy been thrown over this country, with 
the result that nefarious secret organizations were at work 
among her people, corrupting them and plotting the down- 
fall of their institutions? No definite, independent word 
had yet been spoken in America in answer to these ques- 
tions. Thus far the issue was joined over the merits or 
demerits of a book,^ — a book that had recently come across 
the Atlantic and whose readers in America, according as 
they were credulous or incredulous, boldly asserted or as 
vehemently denied that the questions which have just been 
propounded should be answered in the affirmative. 

Thus matters stood in the early fall of 1 798. The news- 
papers generally had begun to take hold of the subject, and 
the volume of public discussion steadily increased. But as 
to progress in the clarifying of the fundamental questions 
at issue, no advance was made. No additional facts were 

regarded as extremely blameworthy on account of the false and calum- 
nious attacks that he had made on worthy private characters in his 
Proofs. Cf. the Massachusetts Mercury of August 28 for this article 
by " Censor." What degree of unmixed comfort this may have afforded 
Morse, we may guess. 

' As yet Barruel's Memoirs of Jacobinism was known to Americans 
only in the literature of English reviews. 


forthcoming; no new light was shed. The alarm that 
Morse and his allies had raised may be said to have been 
something like a ship which has been able to make its way- 
out as far as the harbor mouth, but lingers there becalmed, 
waiting for a favoring gale to speed it on its way. Or was 
it that the winds were ample, but wholly unfavorable? In 
the late summer and the fall of 1798 practically every other 
public interest in New England was eclipsed by two sur- 
passingly important concerns : the bitter agitation over the 
Alien and Sedition Acts, and the distress and terror of the 
people over the ravages of an epidemic of yellow fever 
which was sweeping the towns and cities of the Atlantic 
seaboard, extending well up along the New England coast. 


With the approach of the anniversary thanksgiving in 
Massachusetts, late in November, 1 798, public discussion of 
the lUuminati broke out afresh. Once more the columns 
of the Massachusetts Mercury became the chief medium of 
communication. Stirred, it appears, by the announcement 
from abroad that the first three volumes of the Abbe Bar- 
ruel's Memoirs of Jacobinism had been translated into Eng- 
lish, a contributor to the Mercury took occasion to comment 
at length on the marvelous corroboratory evidence which 
that work was about to supply to the English reading public 
with respect to the great and terrible conspiracy which Pro- 
fessor Robison had laid bare.^ 

This advance commendation of Barruel's composition 
was not destined to be received with unanimous approval. 
"A Friend to Truth " was unable to restrain the impulse to 
exclaim : 

1 Massachusetts Mercury, Nov. 3, 1798: article by "A Customer." 


The paper signed " A Customer " could find but one man con- 
temptible enough to write it. It has his ignominy and his 
guilt. . . . No excuse can be made for the late publication. If 
Barruel's work be not yet in America, why not wait till it 
comes? . . . The public are cautioned against all anonymous 
defamers, from whom our Country has suffered its greatest 

Time and space were claimed by this writer to call atten- 
tion also to alleged discrepancies of a serious nature between 
Robison's account of the rise of the Illuminati and its early 
relations with Freemasonry and the account of the same 
matters by Barruel, as reflected in English reviews of the 
latter's work. Quite incidentally " A Friend to Truth " 
threw out the suggestion that Robison was not always in 
command of his reason.^ 

Such an indecisive passage at arms obviously called for 
further hostilities. The aspersion upon Robison's sanity 
must imrtiediately be branded as infamous, and the charge 
that Barruel had contradicted Robison boldly pronounced a 
lie.^ " Trepidus " felt drawn to enter the combat at this 
juncture, with satire as his principal weapon. He knew of 
nothing so amazing and so wonderful as the discoveries 
which Mr. Robison and his commentators had made re- 
specting the achievements of the Illuminati in America.* 
Surely there was nothing half so dreadful about the Catali- 
narian conspiracy, the Sicilian Vespers, the massacre of St. 

^ Massachusetts Mercury, Nov. 13, 1798. 


2 Ibid., Nov. 16, 1798. Extracts from Barruel's Memoirs, garnered 
from English reviews, were offered in evidence by this writer. The 
charge of contradiction was hotly commanded by him to grive place to 
the darker charge of designed perversion on the part of Robison's 

*Ibid., Nov. 30, 1798. 


Bartholomew, or the Gunpowder Plot. But he, too, had a 
mysterious cabal to expose. The people who were vulgarly 
called " Quakers," but who had assumed the suspicious 
name of " Friends," were they not conspirators? 

The Illuminati esteem all ecclesiastical establishments profane, 
irreligious, and tyrannical ; so do the Quakers. They hold also 
the obligations of brotherly love and universal benevolence. 
The Quakers not only profess these Atheistical principles, but 
actually reduce them to practice. The Illuminati hold the 
enormous doctrine of the Equality of mankind. So do these 
Quakers. They, like the Illuminati, have a general corres- 
pondence through all their meetings, delegates constantly mov- 
ing, and one day, at every quarterly meeting, set apart for 
private business; and I engage to prove at the bar of any 
tribunal in the United States, that these Friends, these men so 
horribly distinguished for benevolence and philanthropy, (Ah ! 
philanthropy!) have held, and do still hold a constant corres- 
pondence with their nefarious accomplices in Europe. . . . 
Awake, arise, or be forever fallen! ^ 

These, however, were the sentiments of mere scribblers. 
Such were able to handle the subject seriously or lightly ac- 
cording as their sympathies or their prejudices were most 
appealed to. It was evident that in either case such men 
charged themselves with no personal responsibility to get at 
the precise facts. What was needed was the testimony and 
counsel of one who, recognizing the gravity of the interests 
involved and having accumulated and weighed the evidence, 
should be able to speak the language of enlightened convic- 
tion, backed by the force of a position among his fellow 
citizens which would entitle his words to respect. An 
attempt to meet that need was about to be made, how suc- 
cessfully we shall soon be in a position to judge. 

On the day of the anniversary thanksgiving referred to 

» Massachusetts Mercury, Nov. 30, 1798. 


in the beginning of this chapter, the Reverend Jedediah 
Morse was again before his people in his Charlestown pul- 
pit, to speak to them under the inspiration of another high 
occasion in the commonwealth's life. Of what would he 
speak? The day had, of course, its own definite sugges- 
tions. Governor Increase Sumner, in appointing it, appar- 
ently had felt that Massachusetts' measure of providential 
mercies had been well filled.^ The earth had yielded a suffi- 
cient supply for the wants of the people, and the efforts of 
industrious husbandmen had been well rewarded. The 
state's fisheries had been prospered, and its commerce, al- 
though much interrupted by the violence and rapacity of 
unreasonable men, had been generally attended with success. 
Order and tranquillity had continued to reign in the common- 
wealth, and although a mortal contagious disease had been 
permitted for a time to afflict the city of Boston, yet Provi- 
dence had been pleased to set bounds to the progress of the 
plague, and once more the voice of health and plenty was 
generally heard. The constitutions of civil government 
were still enjoyed; the life and usefulness of the nation's 
chief magistrate had been spared and continued; and de- 
spite the past impenitence of the people, they were still in- 
dulged with the Christian religion.^ 

Would these considerations engage the thought of the 
minister of Charlestown and inspire his tongue to speak the 
language of thanksgiving and praise? Only in part.* 

1 Massachusetts Mercury, Oct. 26, 1798. 


3 A Sermon, Preached at Charlestown, November 29, 1798, on the 
Anniversary Thanksgiving in Massachusetts. With an Appendix, de- 
signed to illustrate some parts of the Discourse; exhibiting proofs of 
the early existence, progress, and deleterious effects of French intrigue 
and influence in the United States. By Jedediah Morse, D. D., pastor 
of the church in Charlestown. . . . Boston, December, 1798. Two re- 
prints of the sermon were issued early in the next year. 


Mot-se's mind was occupied, not so much with the thought 
of ipiercies bestowed as with that of perils to be faced. 
Passing lightly over the more favorable and reassuring 
aspects of the state of public affairs, he seized upon various 
items in the governor's proclamation to point out those 
untoward elements in the situation which seemed to him to 
supply ample warrant for alarm. 

The proclamation of the governor had referred to the 
uninterrupted order and tranquillity of the state. True; 
this was a mercy with which, under the favor of Provi- 
dence, the people of Massachusetts had been blessed. Yet, 
unhappily, serious differences in political and religious opin- 
ions had been permitted to exist. Men might call these 
differences a mere war of words; but words are often cal- 
culated to bring on a more serious conflict. Such party zeal 
and animosities as had been raging would now somewhat 
abate, let it be hoped, and thus the heat of battle would be 
found to be past. But undeniably the crisis had been grave.^ 

The " Constitutions of Civil Government " were still en- 
joyed; but they had been, and still were seriously threat- 
ened. The main sources from which such dangers issue 
deserved to be pointed out. The vices and demoralizing 
principles of the people generally, their selfish spirit as con- 
spicuously expressed in their insatiable ardor to become 
rich, the spread of infidel and atheistical principles in all 
parts of the country, the increase of luxury, extravagance, 
and dissipation, the spirit of insubordination to civil author- 
ity, — these constituted the perils against which the most 
powerful precautions must be taken.^ The people of the 
United States were not sufficiently aroused to a sense of the 
high importance of the experiment of free government 
which they were making before the eyes of the world. 

' Morse, op. cit, p. 9. 
2/6irf., pp. 10-14. 


Unless prompt reformation took place, they must make ttieir 
choice between a voluntary increase in the power of 'gov- 
ernment on the one hand, and revolution, anarchy, land 
military despotism on the other/ 

The real nub of the matter, however, was yet to bf; con- 
sidered. " The blessings of good government have been 
most imminently and immediately endangered by foreign 
intrigue." ^ Enlarging upon this proposition, Morse' argued 
that for twenty years and more foreign intrigue had been 
the bane of the country's independence, peace, and prosper- 
ity. By it, insidious efforts had been made to diminish the 
nation's limits, its importance, and its resources. By it, 
national prejudices had been kept alive. By it, efforts had 
been made to render efficient government impossible.* This 
spirit, which in other nations had brought about their down- 
fall and left them, like the republics of Europe, prostrate at 
the feet of France,* had thus far been thwarted here only 
by means of the administration of government, wise, firm, 
dignified, and " supported by the enlightened and ardent 
patriotism of the people, seasonably manifested, with great 
unanimity, from all quarters of the Union, in patriotic ad- 
dresses, in a voluntary tender of military services, and lib- 
eral means of naval defence." ° 

As to the country's continued indulgence with the Chris- 
tian religion,® it should be said that this blessing was 

^ Morse, op. cit., p. 15. 


3 md. 

* Ihxd., p. 16. 

» Ihid., p. 18. 

' The sermon was preached in two parts, morning and afternoon, and 
concerning Morse's discussion of the Christian religion this explana- 
tory note appears in the printed report: "The last article, respecting 
the Christian Religion, which constituted the whole of the forenoon 


regularly recognized in the governor's proclamation, and 
always called for loudest praise. However, at that partic- 
ular hour there were extraordinary reasons why the praise 
of citizens should be unusually fervent; for were not those 

. . . when secret and systematic means have been adopted and 
pursued, with zeal and activity, by wicked and artful men, in 
foreign countries, to undermine the foundations of this Re- 
ligion, and to overthrow its Altars, and thus to deprive the 
world of its benign influence on society, and believers of their 
solid consolations and animating hopes; when we know that 
these impious conspirators and philanthropists have completely 
effected their purposes in a large portion of Europe, and 
boast of their means of accomplishing their plan in all parts of 
Christendom, glory in the certainty of their success, and set 
opposition at defiance ; when we can mark the progress of these 
enemies of human happiness among ourselves, in the corrup- 
tion of the principles and morals of our youth; the contempt 
thrown on Religion, its ordinances and ministers; in the in- 
crease and boldness of infidelity, and even of Atheism ? ^ 

The foregoing abstract takes account of all the important 
points in the text of Morse's anniversary thanksgiving ser- 
mon. The reader will not need instruction as to the com- 
monplace character of Morse's pulpit performance. The 
distinguishing character of the production, however, is not 
to be sought in the sermon proper, but in the astonishing 
array of supplementary material by which it was accom- 
panied when it appeared in its printed form. This material 

sermon, being a common, though always interesting subject, has been 
considerably abridged." {Ibid., p. 4.) This is only one of many marks 
of the great care Morse took to get the printed report of the sermon 
before the public in the most impressive form possible. He was fully 
conscious of the fact that he had an allegation to defend as well as a 
demurrer to oppose. 
^ Morse, op, cit., pp. 20-22. 


consisted of numerous foot notes and a bulky appendix of 
some fifty pages. The foot notes frequently commented 
upon passages in the works of Robison and Barruel. Since 
they throw no light upon the fundamental questions at issue, 
we may pass them by. One, however, was unique; and be- 
cause of its suggestiveness for the future trend of public 
discussion respecting the Illuminati, it must be cited in 

The probable existence of Illuminism in this country was 
asserted in my Fast Discourse of May last. The following 
fact, related by a very respectable divine, while it confirms 
what is above asserted, shews that my apprehensions were not 
without foundation. " In the northern parts of this state 
[Massachusetts] as I am well informed, there has lately ap- 
peared, and still exists under a licentious leader, a company of 
beings who discard the principles of religion, and the obliga- 
tions of morality, trample on the bonds of matrimony, the 
separate rights of property, and the laws of civil society, spend 
the sabbath in labour and divertion, as fancy dictates ; and the 
nights in riotous excess and promiscuous concubinage, as lust 
impels. Their number consists of about forty, some of whom 
are persons of reputable abilities, and once, of decent charac- 
ters. That a society of this description, which would disgrace 
the natives of Caffraria, should be formed in this land of civi- 
lization and Gospel light, is an evidence that the devil is at 
this time gone forth, having great influence, as well as great 
wrath." Cf. a Sermon on " the Dangers of the times, especi- 
ally from a lately discovered Conspiracy against Religion and 
Government. By Rev. Joseph Lathrop, D. D., of West Spring- 
field." ^ 

' Morse's Anniversary Thanksgiving Sermon, pp. 22 et seq. The ser- 
mon of Lathrop referred to bears the following title : A Sermon, on the 
Dangers of the Times, from Infidelity and Immorality; and especially 
from a lately discovered Conspiracy against Religion and Government, 
delivered at Went-Springfteld and afterward at Springfield. By Joseph 
Lathrop, D. D., Springfield, September, 1798. The statement that Morse 


This foot note speaks for itself. The Appendix, or sup- 
plement of Morse's sermon, was made up of a curious mix- 
ture of heterogeneous documents, such as an original survey 
of the history of the United States from the time that the 
Federal government was established, extracts from the con- 
fidential correspondence which passed between French 
agents in this country and the French government,^ and ex- 
tracts from the correspondence of various public characters 
in the United States, all tending to enforce the point that 
from the beginning of the relations between our govern- 
ment and that of France, the controlling aim and spirit of 
the latter had been to work despicable and ruinous intrigue.'' 

quotes appears on page 14 of Lathrop's sermon. Cf. Cunningham, 
Abner, Practical Infidelity Portrayed and the Judgments of God Made 
Manifest, (3rd. edition), New York, 1836, pp. 42-46, where a somewhat 
similar situation in Orange County, New York, is referred to, and with 
suggestions of secret revolutionary designs not unlike those made by 
Lathrop. The situation referred to by Cunningham is also dealt with 
by F. M. Ruttenber, in his History of the County of Orange, with a 
History of the Town and City of Newburgh . . . Newburgh, N. Y., 
1875, pp. 164 et seq. Woodbridge Riley's article on Early Free-Thinking 
Societies in America (Harvard Theological Review, July, 1918, pp. 247- 
284) came to the attention of the author of this study when the entire 
dissertation was in page proof. 

' Some of these dated as far back as 1782, and none of them need 
have been' disturbing to a calm mind. 

' The following letter, written by Morse to Timothy Pickering, throws 
considerable light upon the sources from which the most of these docu- 
ments were derived and the manner and spirit in which they were 

" Charlestown, Jan. 22^, 1799. 

Dear Sir, 

I take the liberty to enclose for your acceptance a copy of my Thanks- 
giving Discourse. The Appendix contains some documents not before 
published. I hope the publication of them, in the manner I have done, 
will not be deemed premature. I did it by the advice of some of the 
wisest & best informed men in this vicinity. 

I think it my duty, confidentially to make known to you the sources 
from which I obtained ray information, that you may better know how- 
to appreciate its authenticity. It will rest with you, Sir, to make what 
use of it you may think expedient. I wish it may be communicated to 
the President. 


All of this, it may be said, was fairly typical of the pab- 
ulum which Federalist leaders were regularly serving up to 
the people in 1798, and signified little or nothing concerning 
the existence of French conspirators wearing the Illuminati 
brand who may, or may not, have been at work in America 
at the time. 

One section of the Appendix, however, supplied some 
evidence of a definite effort to leave generalities and deal 
intimately with the point at issue. In this section ^ Morse 
sought to connect the Illuminati with " the Jacobin Clubs 

Mr. J. Jackson, Supervisor, favored me with Mr. Marbois' Letter, & 
the Letter p. 41 whh is from Mr. Adams. — I should not have published 
the latter, had it not before appeared in print in a political pamphlet 
printed in Phila lately. The member of Congress from whom I de- 
rived the documents contained between pages 43 & 52, is Mr. S. Hig- 
ginson', who also wrote the Letters whh follow to page 56. Note E, p. 
66 & G, p. 69 & H, p. 70 were furnished (at least the information they 
contain) by Mr. G. iCabot. The Letters under Note H, from a diplo- 
matic character in Europe, are from Mr. K — g — . [Rufus King?] The 
Emigrant mentioned p. 69 — was the Duke de Liancourt, whose name 
I see in Porcupine's Gazette of January 11, as about to revisit 
this Country. The American was Mr. G. C. above mentioned. The 
note concerning Volney, p. 21 was furnished by Genl. K — ^x [Gen- 
eral Henry Knox?] & iMr. G. C The fact mentioned p. 68 relative to 
Paine's Age of Reason, 15,000 copies of which are asserted to have 
been poured into this Country at one time from France, rests chiefly on 
the authority of a well written piece published last summer in Porcu- 
pine's Gazette. I wish, Sir, if you are knowing to the fact, or can 
ascertain the truth, you would do me the favor to furnish me with the 
evidence. I know not that it will be controverted, but should it be it is 
well to have it in my power to substantiate it. I feel prepared to sub- 
stantiate all other of ray assertions. 

I am persuaded, Sir, you will properly appreciate my motives in 
making the above communication, as also in publishing the Sermon & 
Appendix. I live among a people many of whom err in Sentiment & 
Conduct through their want of information. It was especially for their 
benefit that the Appendix was compiled. With great and very sincere 

I am, Sir, your most Obd. Servt, 

Jedh Morse." 

Pickering Papers, vol. xxiv, 29. 

1 Morse's Thanksgiving Sermon, " Note F," pp. 67 et seq. 


instituted by Genet." ^ Like their sister organizations in 
France they had been constituted after the manner and with 
the principles of the European Illuminati. The fact that 
the members of these American organizations have been the 
leading disseminators of the principles of Illuminism in this 
country, as well as the circulators of all those publications, 
like Paine's Age of Reason, whose object is to discredit and 
throw contempt upon the Christian religion, clearly fixes 
their status as " the apostles of Illuminism." ^ Frowned 
upon by the Federal government, these American organiza- 
tions have ceased to act openly; "but, like their parent 
society in Bavaria which, when suppressed under one form, 
was soon revived again under the name of the German 
Union," * so their offspring in the United States now hypo- 
critically mask themselves under the name of The Amer- 
ican Society of United Irishmen.* 

''■ Morse's Thanksgiving Sermon, p. 67. The reference is, of course, 
to the Democratic Clubs. 
' Morse's Thanksgiving Sermon, pp. 68 et seq. 
*Ibid., p. 67. 

* Ibid. This secret organization referred to by Morse was founded 
in Ireland about 1791. It was in part the outgrowth of republican 
sentiments which the French Revolution inspired in the Irish people, in 
part of similar sentiments earlier received. Cf. Madden, The United 
Irishmen, vol. i, pp. 3-44. The object of the organization was to obtain 
complete emancipation for both Catholics and Dissenters, and to re- 
form the Irish parliament. The group manifested a bold revolutionary 
spirit. When the English govermnent resorted to strong repressive 
measures, many of its members came to America. The Irish Rebellion 
of 1798 sent other Irish political exiles here; with the result that by 
many in this country the situation was adjudged to be alarming. Wil- 
liam Cobbett ("Peter Porcupine") was one of the most aggressive 
opponents of the movement in America. The Proceedings of the Soci- 
ety of the United Irishmen of Dublin was published at Philadelphia in 
1795. The same year Cobbett published A Bone to Gnaw, for the 
Democrats; or Observations on a Pamphlet entitled " The Political 
Progress of Britain." Part ii of Cobbett's pamphlet was devoted to the 
Proceedings just mentioned. Cobbett's paper, Porcupine's Gasette, to a 


Taken by itself, it would be impossible to state how 
favorably this presentation of the case against Illuminism 
impressed the public mind.^ But as a matter of fact, on the 
occasion of the Massachusetts anniversary thanksgiving re- 
ferred to, Morse was by no means compelled to bear his 
testimony alone. By the time that occasion came round, 

considerable extent was devoted to the raising of an alarm against the 
United Irishmen. Cobbett urged that the United Irishmen represented 
a conspiracy on the part of France to ruin the United States. See 
Porcupine's Gazette, May 8, 10, 1798. Since Cobbett was one of the 
mien in America deeply interested in Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy 
(cf. particularly Porcupine's Gazette for May 18, July 14 and Aug. 
13, 1798), and since Cobbett printed in his paper much that Morse pub- 
lished on the subject of the Illuminati (see, for example, Porcupine's 
Gazette for Aug. 9 and 13, 1798; Feb. 2S, 26, and June 3, i799), it is at 
least believable that Morse took from Cobbett the suggestion about the 
identification of the Illuminati with the United Irishmen. The Com- 
mercial Advertiser of New York was another newspaper that gave 
attention to the subject of the United Irishmen. The issue of that 
paper for Nov. i, 1798, carried an extended article copied from the 
Gazette of the United States, calling upon the citizens of this country 
to be on their guard against the United Irishmen. The author of this 
article identified the United Irishmen and the French party in the 
United States as one. Cf. also the Commercial Advertiser for Nov. S, 
1798. Thus Morse had abundant warrant in precedent if not in fact 
for the suggestion he made at this point in the Appendix to his thanks- 
giving sermon. 

' One may be sure that the following caustic comment of the editor 
of the Independent Chronicle is to be set down to instinctive repug- 
nance and hostility, and is thus representative only of rabid partisan- 
ship : " Actions speak louder than words. If the parish observe the 
Minister busy about many things; if they find him more anxious about 
the geographical description of the City of Washington^ or the Georgia 
Lands, than the New-Jerusalem or the Larid of Canaan; if they find 
him neglect his parish on a Sunday and employ himself during the 
week, to collect ridiculous fables to swell an appendix to a political 
publication. If he will do these things, he must expect that his Flock 
will not increase, and that at the year's end, while he is exploring the 
territory of the United States, and hunting up Robinson's [jjV] strag- 
gling Illuminati, he must not be surprised if some of his own sheep 
have strayed across the river, and become the care of a more attentive 
shepherd." {Ibid., Jan. 7, 1799.) 


the subject of Illuminism had soHcited the attention and 
concern of the Federahst clergy generally ; on which account 
it happened that a considerable amount of clerical artillery 
was unlimbered and trained upon the new foe. 

At Haverhill, the Reverend Abiel Abbott, in language 
emphatic, if somewhat high-flown, voiced his alarm: 

Upon the authority of a respectable writer in Europe and of 
corroboratory testimonies, it is now generally believed that the 
present day is unfolding a design the most extensive, flagitious, 
and diabolical, that human art and malice have ever invented. 
Its object is the total destruction of all religion and civil order. 
If accomplished, the earth can be nothing better than a sink of 
impurities, a theatre of violence and murder, and a hell of 
miseries. Its origination was in Germany; its hot-bed now is 
Paris. Its nursing fathers are the French Government; its 
apostles are their generals and armies. Its fruits have been 
seen in France; Christianity expelled; its priesthood seized 
and murdered, or hunted down in neutral countries and de- 
manded of their hospitable protectors at the peril of war and 
ruin. — And now, were our first magistrate an Illuminatus, a 
conspirator in league with the horde in Europe, the grand 
master of the demoralizers in America, how soon might the 
American republic have been degraded to the deplorable state 
of the French ? ^ 

At Deerfield, the Reverend John Taylor dwelt upon " the 
good effect . . . produced upon the public mind by the 
fortunate discovery of a secret conspiracy in Europe, 
against all the religions and governments on earth." ^ One 

' A Memorial of Divine Benefits. In a Sermon, 'delivered at Exeter, 
on the isth, and at Haverhill, on the 29th of November, 1798, days of 
Public Thanksgiving, in New-Hampshire and Massachusetts. By Abiel 
Abbot, pastor of the First Church in Haverhill. Haverhill, Massachu- 
setts, 1798, pp. 18 et seq. 

^A Sermon, delivered on the day of Public Thanksgiving, at Deer- 
Held; Nov. 29, '98. By John Taylor, A. M., pastor of the church at 
Deerfield. Greenfield (n. d.), p. 13- 


of the evidences of this salutary impression, he said, was to 
be found in the fact that even the confirmed infidels in 
America had been shocked.^ At Andover, the Reverend 
Jonathan French did not consider his full duty discharged 
when he had uttered a general warning against men of 
treachery, slander, and falsehood in the nation, men who 
have spared no pains in fomenting difficulties and divisions.^ 
He believed it to be incumbent upon him to strike out at 
that " envenomed serpent in the grass," France, whose tools, 
said he, were here, according to two writers of eminence 
and credit. Professor Robison and the Abbe Barruel.* The 
works of these two authors, French's hearers were in- 
formed, " ought to rouse the attention, awaken the vigi- 
lance, and excite the endeavors of every friend to rehgion,. 
to develop the dark designs, and to guard against the bane- 
ful influence of all such dangerous secret machinations." * 
Through the pulpit ministrations of the Reverend Joseph 
Eckley, auditors at the Old South Church in Boston had 
their attention drawn to the same topic, although the lan- 
guage employed by this clergyman was somewhat less spe- 
cific than that which has just been noted/ 

Other pastors, while refraining from definite reference to 
the Illuminati, took occasion to exploit the subject of French 
intrigue, with a view to awakening in their hearers a keen 
sense of instant alarm. Of such, the efforts of the Reverend 

1 Taylor's Thanksgiving Sermon, p. 13. 

^A Sermon, delivered on the Anniversary Thanksgiving, Novem- 
ber 29, 1798, with some additions in the historical part. By Jonathan' 
French, A. M., pastor of the South Church in Andover. Andover,, 
1799, p. 23- 

3 Ibid., pp. 23 et seq. 


s A Discourse, delivered on the Public Thanksgiving Day, No- 
vember 29, 1798. By Joseph Eckley, D. D., minister of the Old South 
Church, Boston. Boston, 1798, pp. 9, 15, 18. 


Nathan Strong, pastor of the North Presbyterian Church in 
Hartford/ and the Reverend Henry Cumings, pastor of the 
church in Billerica, deserve mention. Strong contended 
that foreign influence, if not promptly checked, would work 
here the same havoc it had wrought in France, i. e., the 
demoraHzing principles of infidelity and political engage- 
ments and alliances would chain the people of the United 
States to " a burning pile " ; ^ and Cumings developed the 
idea that the war impending between this country and 
France possibly amounted to an act of intervention on the 
part of God to rescue the United States as a brand from the 
burning.* By the breaking out of war a providential check 
would be put 

... to that alarming inundation of impiety and infidelity, 
which, having overwhelmed a great part of Europe, has lately 
rolled its swelling waves across the Atlantic . . . threatening 
our happy country with an universal devastation of every re- 
ligious sentiment, moral principle, and rational enjoyment, 
together with the consequent introduction of that wretched 
unhallowed philosophy which degrades a man to a level with 
the -beasts that perish," * etc. 

' Connecticut kept a state thanksgiving at the same time as Massa- 

'^Political Instruction from the Prophecies of God's Word, — a Ser- 
mon, preached on the State Thanksgiving, Nov. z<), 1798, By Nathan 
Strong, pastor of the North Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Connec- 
ticut. Hartford, 1798. This sermon is characterized by an ingenious 
effort to remove the stigma " mother of harlots " from the Catholic 
hierarchy and attach it to the Revolutionary leaders in France. " It is 
the Talleyrands and their associates,'' said Strong, " whom I conceive 
to be the most properly designated by the mother of harlots, in the 
present period of the great apostacy." {Ibid., p. 17.) 

3 A Sermon preached at Billerica, November 29, 1798, being the 
day of the Anniversary Thanksgiving throughout the Commonwealth 
of Massachusetts. By Henry Cumings, A. M., pastor of the church in 
said town. Boston, 1798, p. 22. 

* Ibid. 


On the whole, the idea of secret and systematic plottings 
against the liberties and institutions of the people of the 
United States was extensively promoted by clerical agency 
during the autumn and winter of 1798-99. For it is not 
to be lost sight of that such pulpit utterances as have just 
been noticed were considerably more than mere pulpit pro- 
nouncements. Issued from the presses of New England, 
these sermons were scattered widely through the country ^ 
and, no doubt, were widely read. Some representatives of the 
clergy, as we have seen, spoke out with distinctness regard- 
ing the Illuminati, asserting that this organization would 
have to be reckoned with by their fellow citizens. Others 
committed themselves no farther than to emphasize foreign 
intrigue of the French stripe, and to characterize it as a vital 
thrust at the country's peace and prosperity. The total 
effect was to invite a general airing of the issue which 
Jedediah Morse had raised in his fast day sermon of May 
9, 1798, and to render imperative a sifting of evidence. 

The part played by the newspapers is less easily inter- 
preted, since it calls for the survey of a much less solid 
body of opinion. Some journals adopted an attitude of dis- 
creet silence, apparently waiting for the mists which en- 
veloped the subject to clear. Others opened their columns 
impartially to champions and antagonists, willing to be used 
to let light in upon a dark and perplexing matter. The 
policy (the word seems strangely out of place in connection 
with the average New England newspaper of the period) 

' The following excerpt from a letter of Jedediah Morse to Timothy 
Pickering, under date of Feb. 11, 1799, is significant in this connection: 
" An editn. of 450 of my Sermon and Appendix is nearly gone — & a 
second of 800 is in the press. A number of gentlemen in Boston have 
thought it might be useful to send a copy to every clergyman in the 
commonwealth, & have agreed with the printer to furnish them, & they 
will be distributed when the members of the Legislature return home." 
(^Pickering Papers, vol. xxiv, 71.) 


of several of these journals can best be stated in terms of 
their own behavior. 

The course pursued by the Columbian Centinel ^ left 
nothing to be desired as respects impartiality. As early as 
August II, 1798, there appeared in this paper the following 
sarcastic " epistles " : 

Epistle from Professor Robison, in Scotland, to Professor 
Morse, in America : 

" Dear Brother, 

Will you scratch my back ? 

Yours affectionately, 


Another Epistle, from Professor Morse, in America, to Pro- 
fessor Robison, in Scotland : 

" Dear Brother, 

I'll scratch your back, if you will scratch my elbow. 
Yours affectionately, 

Jed. Morse." 

A few weeks later there appeared in the same paper an 

' The full title of this journal was The Columbian Centinel and 
Massachusetts Federalist. Here was an instance in which Masonic 
affiliations quite overrode ardent Federalist loyalty. To this the fol- 
lowing letter of editor Benjamin Russell to William Bentley testifies: 

" Boston, Aug. 9, 1798. 
. . As to Morse, I think him meddling in an affair which but little 
coincerns him, and of which he has less knowledge. It would be better 
to let him flounder on, and he will speedily blow himself out. He can- 
not hurt the craft, — and his wit is as pointless, as his holy zeal is un- 
changeable. Although I wish not to engage in a controversy, which has 
no politick in its ingredients, I should nevertheless have published your 
communication had I received it. — As it is it may be best that the con- 
troversy should be carried on in one paper. You will see by this day's 
Mercury, that M. is still floundering. — I intend to barb him a little at 
the Installation at 'Reading, if he is present. If not he shall hear of a 
toast or two." {William Bentley Correspondence, vol. iv, 117). 


article whose author professed that having read " The 
Cannibals' Progress, the Freemason's illuminati, and some 
other documents of the French nation," he had been brought 
round to the conclusion that the depravity of the human 
race was astounding. He could no longer doubt that the 
conspiracy against religions and governments was not only 
deeply laid, but was likewise spreading far and wide. He 
was convinced that the proofs of its existence in America 
were to be observed generally throughout the country, " in 
every society where there is the least prospect of success, 
in misleading and dividing our citizens." ^ To this another 
contributor was given opportunity to respond with an ex- 
pression of sentiments intended to sweep the views of the 
former aside as inordinately nonsensical and silly.^ 

After the autumn crop of thanksgiving sermons had re- 
vived interest in the subject of the Illuminati, the Centinel 
published one article which really shed a modicum of light 
upon the subject. This consisted of a letter which had 
originally been received in England from Germany, to- 
gether with certain observations from the pen of the anon- 
ymous contributor who ofifered it in evidence.^ The letter 
bore the signature of one Augustus Bottiger, who identified 
himself as " Counsellor of the Upper Consistorj', and Pro- 
vost of the College of Weimar." * It concerned itself with 
the amused astonishment with which, according to its 
author. Professor Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy had 
been received in Germany, in view of the fact that from 
1790 on every interest in the Illuminati had ceased in that 
country. The Freemasons of Germany, Bottiger asserted, 
had had absolutely nothing to do with Illuminism from the 

' Columbian Centinel, Sept. 8, 1798. 
^Ibid., Sept. 12, 1798. 
= Ibid., Jan. 5, 1799. 
' Ibid. 


■date mentioned. In the observations which accompanied 
this letter the information was advanced that in England all 
public interest in Illuminism had likewise died out, owing 
to the contemptuous estimate which the people of that coun- 
try had come to place upon the works of Robison and 

In the heat which had arisen over the subject of Illumin- 
ism it was impossible that this bit of evidence should pass 
without being sharply challenged. A rough and scurrilous 
rejoinder to these productions appeared in the Centinel of 
January 19, 1799. Questions were boldly raised concern- 
ing the identity of the addressee of the Bottiger letter; 
how the letter had chanced to find its way to America; 
where it had been translated; what were the religious and 
political sentiments of the author ; who was the person that 
penned the remarks by which it had been accompanied in 
the Centinel; how the latter had come into possession of his 
pretentious stock of information respecting the state of 
public opinion in England, et cetera, et cetera. Neither the 
writer nor his friends were favorably impressed. " The 
naked declaration of an unknown paragraphist, probably 
enough an emigrant illuminatist, will not be sufficient with 
■enlightened Americans to convict Professor Robison or 
Abbe Barruel of criminality or even of error in their pub- 
lications." " 

Another newspaper that sought, to hold to a non- 
committal course was the Massachusetts Mercury, as might 
have been anticipated in view of circumstances already re- 
lated. After the generous hearing which this journal, in 

1 Columbian Centinel, Jan. 5, 1799. This communication including 
the Bottiger letter, was promptly copied by the Massachusetts Mercury, 
and thus given a wider publicity. Cf. the Mercury of Jan. 11, 1799. 

» Op. cit. 


the summer and fall of 1798, accorded to both sides in the 
controversy, a marked diminution of its interest for a season 
is noticeable. A search through its files for the winter of 
1798-99 discloses nothing more than an occasional article 
bearing on the subject. One of these came to light in the 
issue of December 7.^ " Anti-IUuminism " solicited the 
public ear that he might testify to the change that had 
taken place in his personal convictions. An examination of 
Robison's volume and reflection upon the amount of abuse 
which that author had been compelled to suffer had per- 
suaded him that there was positive truth in the charge of 
conspiracy that had been made. He was now certain that 
the Masons were not the harmless persons he had formerly 
believed them to be. The vociferous attempt which had 
been made to vindicate American Freemasonry impressed 
him as decidedly premature. It was clear to him that all 
secret societies were dangerous. 

It might have been expected that a Democratic sheet as 
violent and aggressive as the Independent Chronicle would 
range itself squarely against the alarmists, and seek, if not 
by argument at least by unlicensed vituperation, to distract 
the public interest. But as a matter of fact, the Chronicle 
elected to adopt a very different attitude.^ Morse and his 

'■ Somewhat later the Mercury offered to its readers relevant passages 
from Lathrop's sermon of the preceding September and from French's 
thanksgiving sermon. Cf. the Mercury for Jan. 11 and Feb. 26, 1799. 

' The attention of Thomas and Abijah Adams, editors of the Inde- 
pendent Chronicle, during the fall and winter of 1798-99 was mostly 
occupied with very pressing personal considerations. In October, 1798, 
Thomas Adams was arrested under the 'Sedition Act. While his trial 
was in progress objectionable comments on the state and federal gov- 
ernments continued to appear in the Chronicle, with the result that his 
clerk and acting editor, Abijah Adams, was likewise arrested and put 
on trial. Thomas Adams died before his case was concluded; but 
Abijah Adams was later convicted and had the sentence of the court 
imposed upon him. Duniway, The Development of Freedom of 


associates in the special cause which he and they were 
pleading should be treated with contemptuous indifference. 
The bete noire of the editors of the Chronicle was " polit- 
ical preaching." This new agitation over Illurainism, for 
which the clergy were chiefly responsible, was but one other 
proof of their incorrigible impertinence in turning aside 
from their legitimate functions. In displaying " his over- 
heated zeal ... in silly tales about the ' illuminati '," ^ 
Morse was but holding true to type.^ 

At Hartford, next to Boston the main center of the Illu- 
minati agitation in New England, two papers, the American 
Mercury and the Connecticut Courcmt, assisted materially 
in giving publicity to the controversy. The former at first 
gave some evidence of a disposition to treat Morse's presen- 
tation of the case with respect. Extracts from the latter's 
fast day sermon of May 9, 1798, were given to this jour- 
nal's readers; ^ and the annual poem which at the begin- 
ning of the new year (1799) it furnished to its patrons, 
testified to the widespread interest that the general public 
in Connecticut had come to have in the subject of the lUu- 
minati.'" It was not long after this, however, that Elisha 

the Press in Massachusetts, pp. 144 et seq. These facts supply a new 
angle from which to view the relative silence of the Independent 
Chronicle with regard to the Illuminati controversy. 

''^Independent Chronicle, April 15, 1799. Cf. ibid., Jan. 7, 1799. 

'Outside of Boston the newspapers of Massachusetts appear to have 
been generally content to furnish their readers an occasional article 
bearing on the controversy, copied in most casies from the columns of 
Boston or Hartford journals, or from papers which entered New Eng- 
land from without, particularly from New York and Philadelphia. 
Some of these Massachusetts newspapers are to be noticed later in 
connection with the effort that the Masons made to clear themselves 
of guilt. 

3 American Mercury, Aug. 16, 1798. 

* The following quotation bears upon the topic, and does full justice 
to the abilities of the rhymster, although offering only slight sugges- 


Babcock, editor of the Mercury, found reason to become 
rabidly hostile to Morse and his agitation.^ 

As for the Connecticut Courant, its behavior was pre- 
cisely what one should expect from a journal breathing 
always a spirit of arrogant and unreasoning Federalism. 
Quick to take advantage of any new issue which gave 
promise of offering discomfiture to the Democrats, and all 
too often impatient to the point of exasperation over so 
slight a question as the essential soimdness of the facts in- 
volved, from the first day that it was made aware of the 
agitation against the Illuminati, the Courant gave every en- 
couragement to the men who were trying to awaken the 

tion respecting the variety of subjects which the poem, after the man- 
ner of its kind, touched upon: 

"Of late the pulpits roar'd like thunder 
To bring the Whore of Bab'lon under ; 
But now she's down, the tone is turn'd, 
And the old Whore is sadly mourn'd. 
This brings us on to Politicks, — 
For fruitful argument, — (sweet chicks!) 

The Jacobin's head-end we've had, 
To see his tail, most would be glad. 
Of late. Old England was a moon. 
To bay and snarl at, night and noon : 
That's over : — now her Queenship seems 
A splendid Sun with golden beams. 
But pauvre Sanscolotte [sic] is given 
A diff'rent lot, by will of heaven. 

From Anno Lucis till our time, 
Masonic Treason's been a crime: 
Now Robison's in every pocket. 
And up he's flown to fame, like rocket." 

Cf. American Mercury, Jan. 3, 1799: "Ode on Ends; or. The Boy's 
Address, who carries the American Mercury." 

^ Babcock's adverse attitude is dealt with on pp 313 et seq. of this 


people of the country to a sense of the gravity of the peril 
that threatened. The books, pamphlets, sermons, orations, 
and leading newspaper contributions that appeared upon 
the subject, these the Courant urged upon the attention of 
its readers, and gave such assistance as it was able in the 
exposition of their respective merits/ 

The political possibihties in the situation supplied the 
chief, if not the only animus for this playing-up of the case 
by the Courant. On this point little room for doubt is left. 
One contributor who heard Theodore Dwight's Fourth of 
July oration asserted that not till then had his eyes been 
opened to see in Mr. Jefferson " anything more than the 
foe of certain men, who were in possession of places to 
which he might think himself entitled;" but Dwight con- 
vinced him that Jefferson " is the real Jacobin, the very 
child of modem illumination, the foe of man, and the 
enemy of his country." ^ Another argued that the zeal of 
the Democrats for office was to be treated as a part of the 
scheme of Illuminatism in America " to worm its votaries 
into all offices of trust, and importance, that the weapon of 
government, upon signal given, may be turned against 
itself." * Still another contended that the one concern of 
the Democrats of Connecticut was to dispense " to the 
people of this state the precious doctrines of the lUumi- 
nati." ' 

^ Cf. issues of the Courant for July 2, 30, Aug. 6, 13, Sept. 17, 1798; 
and for May 27, June 10, 17, 24, July i, 8, 15, 22, 29, Aug. 5, 12, 19, 26, 
Sept. 2, 9, 16, 23, Oct. 7, Dec. 16, 1799. 

» Ihid.; Aug. 6, 1798. 

5 Ibid., Aug. 13, 1798. 

*Ibid., Sept. 3, 1798. This view that the Courant sought to turn the 
agitation over the Illuminati to political account is confirmed by the 
following extract from " Guillotina," the new year's poem that the 
editors of the Courant presented to their patrons early in 1799. 
" O thou who spurn'd monarchial sway, 
E'er nature sprang to birth; 


The contributions to the agitation made by two news- 
papers that were pubHshed outside of New England but 
which were extensively circulated and much quoted in that 
region, are entitled to consideration at this point. These 
were Porcupine's Gazette and the Aurora General Adver- 
tiser, both Philadelphia publications and, it may be re- 
marked in passing, both tremendously influential through- 
out the entire country. 

William Cobbett, the editor of the former, participated 
in the publication of the first American edition of Robison's 
Proofs of a Conspiracy. As soon as the book was ready 
for distribution he announced the fact in his paper, accom- 
panying the advertisement with flattering testimonials 
gleaned from the London Review.^ Later, he gave to his 
readers his personal estimate of the merits of Robison's 
production.^ In his judgment the Proofs was of such great 

Lord of each Jacobinic fray, 
In ev'ry clime on earth. 
" Tho' plung'd from thy once high estate, 
For turning Order's foe; 
We joy that thou a Prince so great, 
Dost rule the world below. 
" We joy that when like falling star, 
Thy footsteps downward drove; 
The Democratic Cause, from far, 
Came cow'ring from above. 
" That France has caught the livid flame. 
Affords supreme delight; 
And that Genet has spread the same, 
To our admiring sight. 

" May thy Iluminati then 
In ev'ry chme be found; 
All busy as a clucking hen, 
That peeping chicks surround." 
Connecticut Courant, Jan. 7, 1799: "Guillotina, for the year 1799, 
addressed to the Readers of the Connecticut Courant." 

1 Porcupine's Gasette, April 12, 13, 1798. 

2 Ibid., July 14, 1798. 


value that it deserved to be read by every living man. For 
one thing, " it unravels everything that appears mysterious 
in the progress of the French Revolution." ^ 

In the issue of Porcupine's Gazette for August 9, 1798, 
Cobbett expressed his deep interest in the reports which 
had come to him respecting Morse's fast day sermon and 
the " Vindication " with which, he understood, Morse had 
followed his sermon. He would be grateful to any gentle- 
man who would send him a copy of the " Vindication," 
since there could be no doubt as to its great public utility. 
Very promptly his desire was gratified, and Morse's arti- 
cles in vindication of Robison, which in the summer of that 
year he contributed to the Massachusetts Mercury, began 
to be spread before the readers of Porcupine's Gasette.^ 

Following their publication, other matters appear to have 
held the r^tless attention of Cobbett for a time and no 
further reference of an extended character to the afifairs 
of the Illuminati appeared in this paper until February of 
the following year. 

Upon the receipt of a copy of Morse's thanksgiving ser- 
mon, Cobbett communicated to his readers the joy he ex- 
perienced in being able to put them in possession of ex- 
tracts from it.^ Morse's sermon, in his judgment, was an 
extraordinary performance. Of its Appendix he wrote: 

1 Porcupine's Gazette, July 14, 1798. An illustration of the dearth of 
vital data bearing on the existence of the Illuminati, as well as of the 
absurd way in which those who sought to prove their existence grasped 
at straws, is to be found in this issue of Porcupine's Gazette. Cobbett 
published a letter which he had recently received from a certain William 
Smith, of Norwalk, Connecticut, who claimed that the chaplain of the 
ship of a French Admiral had made statements in his presence that 
corroborated Robison's contentions. This letter speedily found its way 
into several New England newspapers, and passed for evidence in the 
case. Cf. for example, the Salem Gazette, Aug. 7, 1798- 

== Ibid., Aug. 13, 23, 24, 30, 1798. 

o Porcupine's Gazette, Feb. 25, 1799. 


" This Appendix is one of the most valuable political tracts 
that ever appeared in America, whether we view it as a col- 
lection of facts, or as an address to the reason and feelings 
of the people." ^ Of the sermon as a whole he wrote : 

It has gone through two editions, and a third is about to 
be commenced. Doctor Morse has long been regarded as 
a benefactor to his country; but notwithstanding his former 
labours have been of great utility, this last work, I have no 
hesitation to say, surpasses them all in this respect; and it 
must, if there be any such thing as national gratitude in Amer- 
ica, render the author the object of universal esteem. He has 
brought to light facts which people in general never before 
dreamed of, and however deaf the middle and southern states 
may be to his warning voice, New-England will listen to it.^ 

This was very strong language, providing the personality 
of William Cobbett is left out of account ! How soothingly 
it fell upon the ears of a certain clergyman in New Eng- 
land, which ears, it may be remarked, were growing accus- 
tomed to much less kindly comment, we may leave to con- 

As for Benjamin Franklin Bache, the editor of the Aurora ^ 
and as militant an advocate of Democratic principles as this 
country contained, all such views of the case were so much 
puerile fol de rol. Robison's Proofs was a blending of " a 
most absurd collection of stories respecting the mystical 
societies in Germany with some fragments of histories of 
French Free Masonry, . . . [an] inconsistent Farrago." * 
Weak indeed must be the cause of despotism " when its 
Satellites can imagine a dissemination of such contemptible 
mummery would calumniate the friends of Liberty or par- 

1 Porcupine's Gazette, Feb. 25, 1799. 

' Ihid., Feb. 26, 1799. 

' By this abbreviated title Bache's paper was generally referred to. 

* Aurora, Aug. 3, 1798. 


alize their efforts to explore the divinity of kings, or the 
dogma of priests." ^ The explanation of Morse's faith in 
Robison's book is to be sought in the fact that the minister 
of Charlestown received his doctor's degree from the Uni- 
versity of Glasgow; and therefore on the principle, "Tickle 
me and I'll scratch you," the Glasgow professor's produc- 
tion was entitled to credit.^ 


The national skies had by no means cleared of threaten- 
ing clouds when, in the early spring of 1799, the time ar- 
rived for President Adams to issue his annual fast day proc- 
lamation. In the view of the nation's chief executive the 
questions of the hour were still of great urgency and it was 
a season of imminent danger.^ Accordingly, in appointing 
Thursday, April 25, as the day for the people of the nation 
to perform acts of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer, 
he justified in part the issuance of the proclamation on the 
following grounds : 

The most precious interests of the people of the United States 
are still held in jeopardy by the hostile designs and insidious 
acts of a foreign nation, as well as by the dissemination among 
them of those principles, subversive of the foundations of all 
religious, moral, and social obligations, that have produced 
incalculable mischief and misery in other countries.* 

Seldom, if ever, has a presidential proclamation breathed 
deeper concern for the moral and religious interests of the 
people. ° Its challenge to citizens who were already of fear- 
ful heart was unmistakable. 

' Aurora, Aug. 3, 1798. 

2 Ibid., Aug. 10, 1798. Bache's death occurred in September. 

3 The Life and Works of John Adams, vol. ix, p. 172. 

* Ibid., pp. 172 et seq. 

* Reverend Ashbel Green, who was chaplain of Congress at the time, 


To the observance of this fast day the Reverend Jedediah 
Morse must have turned in no ordinary frame of mind. A 
spirit of exultation possessed him. It is impossible to read 
the sermon which on that occasion he delivered before his 
people in the Charlestown meeting house and avoid the im- 
pression that to Morse personally the day had been antici- 
pated as one of triumph rather than of humiliation.^ Not 

accounts for the presence of this quality in the proclamation in the 
following manner. The President requested Green to assist him by 
preparing a draft of such a proclamation as the latter deemed suitable 
for the purpose. Aware of the complaints that had been made respect- 
ing previous proclamations, on the ground that while they called the 
people to the religious duties of thanksgiving and fasting, they were 
yet somewhat lacking in the manifestation of "a decidedly Christian 
spirit," Green resolved to prepare for the President's benefit a procla- 
mation of such a thoroughgoing evangelical character that no such 
objection could possibly be lodged against it. This he endeavored to do. 
The President adopted Green's draft and published it, "with only the 
alteration of two or three words out of all affecting the religious char- 
acter of my [his] production." (The Life of Ashbel Green, pp. 260 et 
seq.) The " decidedly Christian spirit " of the proclamation did not 
make the instrument immune from criticism. " An Old Ecclesiastic " 
contributed a highly censorious article to the Aurora, sharply rebuking 
the President for proclaiming the fast, objecting also to his '"very im- 
proper and impolitic . . . language . . when speaking of the French 
nation," and questioning his right to direct the people as to what they 
should pray for. Cf. Aurora, April 4, 1799. This article was copied 
by the Independent Chronicle for the benefit of New England readers, 
and drew from " A Real Ecclesiastic " a valiant defence of the Presi- 
dent's action and language. In the eyes of this writer, " the observa- 
tions ... by an Old Ecclesiastic . . . are so artfully fitted to excite 
groundless suspicions and prejudices against that GREAT AND GOiOD 
MAN [President Adams], and especially to prepossess unwary readers 
against the approaching Fast recommended by him, that it seems im- 
portant to defeat the writer's manifest intention by a few seasonable 
remarks." The nation was a Christian nation, and therefore the Presi- 
dent had a right to recommend the observance of a day of Christian 
humiliation and prayer. Cf. Massachusetts Mercury, April 16, 1799. 

1 A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers, and Consequent Duties 
of the Citizens of the United States of America. Delivered at 
Charlestown, April 25, 1799, the day of the National Fast. By Jedediah 
Morse, D. D., pastor of the church in Charlestown. Charlestown, 1799. 


that in any sense he was out of sympathy with the objects 
for which the day had been set apart, or with the President's 
extremely solemn language in proclaiming the fast; but it 
was given him, as he believed, to make before his people a 
pronouncement of such a startling and convincing character 
as would perform for the country at large that great and 
needed service which for months he had been eager to ac- 
complish. Incidentally, the scofifers who had sought to cry 
■down the alarm which a year before he had sounded should 
be put to rout. Timid apologists for the outcry against 
the Illuminati were about to see their case tremendously 
strengthened. Honest doubters, by the overwhelming- 
weight of the evidence which was about to be spread before 
them, would be forced to acknowledge the folly of their 

The text that Morse employed for the occasion directly 
echoed a sentiment in the President's proclamation, and be- 
sides was well suited to the purpose in view. From the 
Hebrew Psalms he selected the following passage : " If the 
foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" — 
Psalm xi : 3. With this text he proposed to- make an effective 
appeal. The Psalm from which it was taken was composed by 
David while he was in great peril and distress from the per- 
secuting hand of Saul ; while, too, he was hard pressed to find 
a way of escape out of the destructive snares set by his ene- 
mies, whose secret machinations involved both his character 
and his life, and not only this, but the foundations of his 
country.^ What word would better fit the circumstances of 
the present hour ? Have not " the enemies of David, of 
Christ his Antitype, and of the Church . . . ever possessed 
similar dispositions, . . . had in view similar designs, and 
in like circumstances, . . . adopted and pursued the same 
means of gratifying the former, and of accomplishing the 

1 Morse, op. cit., p. 5. 


latter?" ^ Might it not be said that " the present situa- 
tion is uncommonly critical and perilous ?" Do not all per- 
sons of reflection agree upon that judgment, even though 
their opinions regarding the sources and degrees of the dan- 
gers may vary greatly ? ^ 

The "foundations " alluded to in the text were, of course, 
the foundations of religion and government.^ This exegesis 
paved the way for the following statement : 

With all the frankness and plainness becoming an honest and 
faithful watchman, I intend, my brethren, to lay before you 
what I humbly conceive to be our real and most alarming 
dangers ; those which have a malign aspect, both on our relig- 
ious and our political welfare. Believing, as I firmly do, that 
the foundations of all our most precious interests are formid- 
ably assailed, and that the subtil and secret assailants are in- 
creasing in number, and are multiplying, varying, and arrang- 
ing their means of attack, it would be criminal in me to be 
silent. I am compelled to sound the alarm, and I will do it, 
so far as God shall enable me, with fidelity.* 

Having thus prepared the minds of his auditors for the 
portentous revelation, Morse quickly descended to partic- 

It may as well be said plainly, he continued, that the pas- 
sage in the President's fast day proclamation respecting the 
hostile designs, insidious arts, and demoralizing principles 
of a certain foreign nation, referred to France. ° Did any 
one ask for proofs that the President's statement was true? 
The proofs were so abundant and so evident that the diffi- 

'■ Morse, op. cit. 

2 Ibid., p. g. 

^ Ibid., p. 7. 

* Ibid., p. 9. ■. ' . , ' ■'■ 

° Ibid., p. 12. 


culty was to know where to begin. The war upon the de- 
fenceless commerce of the United States ; the inhuman and 
savage treatment of those citizens of this country who have 
been so unfortunate as to fall into the hands of France's 
minions by whom they have been so grossly insulted, 
beaten, wounded and thrust into loathsome prisons and 
dungeons, even murdered; the recent plot of the French 
Directory to invade the southern states from St. Domingo, 
using an army of blacks to effect an invasion, and by these 
attempting to excite to insurrection the blacks of this coun- 
try; ^ here, surely, were ample proofs of the hostile and 
detestable designs of the French government against our 

But there was another matter. The disclosure that had 
recently been made regarding the secret machinations of 
the French on the Island of St. Domingo, focused attention 
upon a matter of the most serious moment. The most 
vigorous, active, and united measures must immediately be 
adopted to arouse from their slumber the citizens of this 
country, that they may give due attention to a particular 

1 Morse, op. cit., pp. 13 et seq. Morse gave as his authority in this in- 
stance Robert Goodloe Harper's " Sketch of the Ppincipal Acts of Con- 
gress during the session which closed the 3d. of March". See Note A, p. 
33, of Morse's Sermon. Reference to Benton's Abridgement of the 
Debates of Congress, vol. ii, pp. 339, 343, discloses the fact that senti- 
ments embodying this apprehension were expressed in the Third Con- 
grress. The struggle which France and England waged for the control 
of the island of St. Domingo, a struggle that had as its principal 
development the insurrection of the blacks of the island under the 
leadership of Touissant I'Oiiverture, properly enough was full of 
deep interest for Americans. Cf. Hildreth, The History of the United 
States of America, vol. v, pp. 269 et seq. For a recent discussion of 
American policy with respect to St. Domingo and the state of affairs 
within the island, see Treudley, Mary, The United States and Santo 
Domingo, 1789-1866 (doctoral dissertation, Clark University), pp. 

2 Cf. Morse's Sermon, pp. 12-14. 


aspect of the insidious and seductive activities of the French 
in the United States, of which, Morse averred, he stood 
prepared to speak with the utmost definiteness/ Continu- 

It has long been suspected that secret societies, under the 
influence and direction of France, holding principles subversive 
of our religion and government, existed somewhere in this 
country. This suspicion was cautiously suggested from this 
desk, on the day of the late National Fast, with the view to 
excite a just alarm, and to put you on your guard against their 
secret artifices. Evidence that this suspicion was well founded 
has since been accumulating, and I have now in my possession 
complete and indubitable proof that such societies do exist, 
and have for many years existed, in the United States. I have, 
my brethren, an official, authenticated list of the names, ages, 
places of nativity, professions, &c. of the officers and members 
of a Society of Illuminati (or as they are now more generally 
and properly styled Illuimnees) consisting of one hundred 
members, instituted in Virginia, by the Grand Orient of 
FRANCE. This society has a deputy, whose name is on the 
list, who resides at the Mother Society in France, to commu- 
nicate from thence all needful information and instruction. 
The date of their institution is 1786, before which period, it 
appears from the private papers of the European Societies 
already published, (according to Professor Robison), that 
several societies had been established in America. The seal 
and motto of this society correspond with their detestable 
principles and designs. The members are chiefly Emigrants 
from France and St. Domingo, with the addition of a few 
Americans, and some from almost all the nations of Europe. 
A letter which enclosed this list, an authentic copy of which I 
also possess, contains evidence of a society of like nature, and 
probably of more ancient date, at New-York, out of which 
have sprung fourteen others, scattered we know not where 

^ Cf. Morse's Sermon, p. 15. 


over the United States. Two societies of the same kind, but 
of an inferior order, have been instituted by the society first 
mentioned, one in Virginia, the other at St. Domingo. How 
many of equal rank they have established among us I am not 

You will perceive, my brethren, from this concise statement 
of facts, that we have in truth secret enemies, not a few scat- 
tered through our country ; how many and, except in three or 
four instances, in what places we know not; enemies whose 
professed design is to subvert and overturn our holy religion 
and our free and excellent government. And the pernicious 
fruits of their insidious and secret efforts, must be visible to 
every eye not obstinately closed or blinded by prejudice. 
Among these fruits may be reckoned our unhappy and threat- 
ening political divisions ; the increasing abuse of our wise and 
faithful rulers ; the virulent opposition to some of the laws of 
our country, and the measures of the Supreme Executive ; the 
Pennsylvania insurrection ; the industrious circulation of bane- 
ful and corrupting books, and the consequent wonderful 
spread of infidelity, impiety, and immorality; the arts made 
use of to revive ancient prejudices, and cherish party spirit, by 
concealing or disguising the truth, and propagating falsehoods ; 
and lastly, the apparent systematic endeavours made to de- 
stroy, not only the influence and support, but the official exist- 
ence of the Clergy.^ 

1 Cf. Morse's Sermon, pp. 15-17. The allusion to a hostile attitude to- 
wards the clergy, with which the extract closes, led Morse to dwell at 
length upon the anticlerical spirit of the whole French system. Cf. ibid., 
pp. 17 et seq. Wherever that system operates, there, Morse asserts, the 
clergy are the first to feel its power and to become the victims of its 
sanguinary revolutionizing spirit. Here in the United States this same 
malignant spirit is visibly at work. And all that the clergy have done to 
provoke this deadly hostility may be summed up in the phrase, " they 
have preached politics." (Ibid., p. 18) . They are now " censured and 
abused, and represented as an expense, useless, nay even, noxious body of 
men " for doing what " only twenty years ago they were called upon to 
perform as a duty." (Ibid., p. 19) . No clergyman of the Standing Order 
could possibly have felt keener resentment on account of the growing 


The remainder of the sermon is void of originality and 
interest. Its utterances pale into insignificance alongside of 
the sensational and emphatic statements just recorded.^ 

When the sermon came from the printer's hands it con- 
tained the " complete and indubitable proof " that Morse 
had proudly told his hearers was in his possession. This 
" proof " was in the form of documents, conspicuous among 
which was the following letter : 

antagonism to that group of men than Jedediah Morse. His state 
of mind is a bit more clearly revealed by the contents of the following 
note by which the printed sermon was accompanied. This note, it 
should first be explained, was called out by the fact that a bill had been 
presented in a recent session of the Massachusetts legislature, providing 
for the suspension of the obligation to support the clergy of the Stand- 
ing Order in all cases where it was possible for individuals to produce 
certificates, showing that they were otherwise contributing to the sup- 
port of public worship. " Had this Bill passed into a law, it is easy to 
see that it would have justified and protected (as was no doubt the 
intention of the Bill, though by no means of all who may have voted 
for it) the disaffected, the irreligious, and the despisers of public wor- 
ship and of the Christian Sabbath, in every town and parish, in with- 
drawing that support of the Christian ministry which the' laws now 
oblige them to give." (Note D, p. 49 of the Fast Sermon). 

' The concluding sections of the sermon were devoted to (a) a de- 
piction of the awful calamities which would come upon America if 
ever French armies were permitted to work their remorseless ravages 
here, and (b) an analysis of the duties which arose out of the dangers 
that had been presented. The duties named required one (i) to stand 
by one's post of duty, despite the gloomy but not utterly hopeless aspect 
of affairs; (2) to avoid all political connections with those nations 
which seem devoted by Providence to destruction, and to make a 
zealous effort "to watch their movements, and detect and expose the 
machinations of their numerous emissaries among us; to reject, as we 
would the most deadly poison, their atheistical and destructive prin- 
ciples in whatever way or shape they may be insinuated among us ; " 
and, especially, (3) to promote the election to offices of trust of only 
such men as have " good principles and morals, who respect religion and 
love their country, who will be a terror to evil doers, and will encourage 
such as do well." 


A L'Ot. • . de Portsmouth, En Virginie le 17. 
du 5e. m. en L'an de la V. ■ . L. • . 5798 ./ ■ . 

La R. • . L. • . Pte. • . Fse. • . regulierement constitue sous 
le titre distinctif de la Sagesse No. 2660, par le G. • . 

La T. • . R. ■ . L. • . L'union-franqaise No. 14. constituee 
par le G. • . Ot. ■ . de New-York. 

S. • . F. • . V. • . 
TT. • . CC. ■ . & RR. • . FF. • . 

La Planche dont vous nous avez favorises en date du i6e. du 
2e. mois de la presenite annee Mque. • ., ne nous est parvenue 
que dcpuis peu de jours ; Elle a ete mise sous les yeux de notre 
R. • . L. ■ . en sa seance extraordinaire du I4e. du present. 

Nous vous f elicitons TT. • . CC. • . FF. • . des nouvelles Con- 
stitutions que vous avez obtenues du G. ■ . Ot. • . de New- York. 
Nous avons ferons en consequence un plaisir & un devoir 
d'entretenir avec votre R. ■ . L. - . la correspondence la plus 
fraternelle, comme avec toutes les LL. • . reguliere qui voudront 
bien vous f avoriser de la leur. 

C'est a ce titre que nous croyons devoir vous donner Con- 
noissance de I'establissement de deux nouveaux attellieres 
maqoniques regulierement constitues et installes au rite f rantjais 
par notre R. • . L. ■ - provincialle, L'un depuis plus d'un an sous 
le titre de L'amitie a L'Ot. • . de Petersburg, en Virginie ; I'autre, 
plus recent, sous le titre de la Parfaite-Egalite a L'Ot. • . du 
Port de Paix isle St. Domingue. 

Nous vous remettons cy- joint quelques exemplaires de notre 
Tableau de cette annee que notre L. • . vous prie d'agreer en 
retour de ceux qu'elle a requ de la votre avec reconnoissance. 

Puisse le G. • . A. • . de I'U. • . benir vos travaux et les couron- 
ner de toutes sortes de succes! C'est dans ces sentiments que 
nous avons la faveur d'etre, 

P. • - L. • . N. • . M. • . Q. ■ . V. ■ . S. • . C. • . 
TT. • . CC. • . et TT. • . RR. • . FF. • . 


Votre tres afifectiones F. ■ - 
Par Mandement de la T. • . 
R. • . L. • . Pte. ■ . de la Sagesse. 


' Ibid., p. 34. For the benefit of his readers, Morse supplied the fol- 
lowing translation : 

" At the East of the Lodge of Portsmouth in 
Virginia, the 17th of the Sth month, in the 
year of (V. • . L. ■ .) True Light 5798./ : 
The (R. • . L. .Pte. • . Fse. ■ .) respectable French 
Provincial Lodge, regularly appointed under the 
distinctive title of WISDOM, No. 2660 by the 

The (T. • . R. ■ . L. • .) very respectable French Lodge, 
The Union, No. 14, constituted by the Grand 
Orient of New- York. 

S.- F. .V.-. 
TT. • . CC. ■ . and RR. • . FF. ■ . 

The plate or opening (to planche) with which you have favoured 
us in date of the i6th of the 2nd month of the current year (Mque. ■ .) 
Masonic, came to us but a few days since. It was laid before our 
(R. . L. .) respectable Lodge, at its extraordinary session on the 14th 

We congratulate you TT. ■ .OC. .FF. ■ . upon the new Constitutions 
or Regulations which you have obtained from the Grand Orient of 
New York. We will therefore make it our pleasure and duty to main- 
tain the most fraternal or intimate Correspondence with your (R. • .L. • .) 
respectable Lodge ; as also with all the regrular Lodges who are willing 
to favour us with theirs. 

It is on this ground (o ce litre) that we think it our duty to inform 
you of the establishment of two new Masonic workshops (^attellieres) 
regularly constituted and installed according to the French ritual, by 
our Provincial (R. -.L. •.) respectable Lodge; one, more than a year 
since, under the title of Friendship in the East side of Petersburg in 
Virginia ; the other more recent, under the title of PERFECT EQUAL- 
ITY, in the East of Port de Paix in the Island of St. Domingo. 

We herewith transmit to you some copies of our List (Tableau) for 
this year, which our Lodge prays you to accept in return for those 
which it hath received from your Lodge with thankfulness. 

May the Grand Architect of the Universe bless your labours, and 


Following this letter and its translation appeared a list of 
the officers and members, resident and non-resident, of Wis- 
dom Lodge, Portsmouth, Virginia, with explanatory data 
in each instance, covering such points as age, place of birth, 
profession, etc., the whole concluding with a representation 
of the seal of Wisdom Lodge and the following motto: 
Amplius Homines oculis quam auribus credunt. Iter 
longum est per precepta, breve et efficax per exemplar 

Upon these documents Morse saw fit to make and publish 
certain " Explanatory Remarks," - of which the following 
is the gist. 

The Lodge Wisdom in Portsmouth, Virginia, is seen to 
be a branch of the Grand Orient of France. Its members 
consist chiefly of foreigners, that is to say. Frenchmen, — 
Frenchmen who come either from France or from the West 
India possessions of that country. From the seal it appears 
that Wisdom Lodge was established as early as 1786. It is 
also, as its number shows, " the two thousand six hun- 
dred AND SIXTIETH branch from the original stock." ' It 
further appears that there is a sister lodge in the city of 
New York, styled the Grand Orient of New York. The 

crown them with all manner of success. With these sentiments we 
have the favour to be, 

P.-. L.-. N.-. M.-. Q.-. V, . S.-. C.-,. 
TT.-. OC-.andTT.- RR.-.FF.-,. 
Your very affectionate FF. • . 
By order of the very respectable 
Provincial Lodg« of Wisdom, 

iMorse's Sermon, p. 35. Secretary." 

' These documents may be found on pp. 36-45 of Morse's Sermon. 
For the motto Morse supplied the following translation : " Men believe 
their eyes farther than their ears. The way by precept is long, but 
short and eMcaceous by example." (Ibid., pp. 46 et seq.) 

" Ibid., pp. 46 et seq. 

^ Ibid., p. 46. 


latter, from the name and number of the lodges it has insti- 
tuted, is quite likely the first and principal branch that the 
Mother Club in France has established in America. This 
New York lodge has established the French lodge. Union, 
to which the letter from the lodge Wisdom was addressed 
As to the other thirteen branches from the parent stock, for 
the present there could be nothing more than conjecture as 
to their location/ 

The documents also show that an intimate correspond- 
ence is maintained between the lodges in America and those 
in St. Domingo; also between the American lodges and the 
Grand Orient in France. It further appears that Wisdom 
Lodge has a regular deputy in the membership of the Grand 
Orient of France. Lists of names are exchanged between 
the two societies, so that their members may be fully known 
to each other. ^ 

Masons to whom these documents issuing from Wisdom 
Lodge have been shown declare that the organization is not 
truly Masonic. The titles of its officers, its seal and motto, 
they affirm, are not regular. Thus the lodge in Portsmouth 
has been pronounced spurious by well-informed Masons.' 

Wisdom Lodge, it appears, has one hundred members. 
Counting all the others referred to in the documents, there 
are seventeen lodges in all. Assuming that these have an 
equal number of members, it may be said that there are at 
least seventeen hundred Illuminati in the United States, all 
bound together by oath and intimate correspondence.* Be- 
yond these there are to be considered, of course, the many 
thousands of Frenchmen scattered through the United 
States, all perhaps " combined and organized (with other 

^ Morse's Sermon, p. 46. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Ibid. 
* Ibid. 


foreigners and some disaffected and unprincipled Amer- 
icans) in these societies, . . . regularly instructed and 
directed by their masters in France, and . . . systematically 
conducting the plan of revolutionizing this country." ^ 

The principles and objects of this organization may be 
partly deduced from the motto and seal of Wisdom Lodge. 
The literal rendering of the former is not so significant as 
its spirit, which is best expressed in the following liberal 
translation : " Men more readily believe what they see than 
what they hear. They are taught slowly by precept, but the 
effect of example is sudden and powerful." ^ From this it 
may be inferred that the organization was formed, " not 
for speculation, but for activity." Precepts are scorned; 
actions are accepted as the only quick method of teaching 
mankind and of producing a change in their opinions. 
The change in opinions which the organization contem- 
plates must have to do with government and religion. It 
cannot have to do with the minds of its members, for the 
society is secret and designs to work secretly. " The 
changes which they can produce by secret infltience and 
intrigue, the novel arts which they can thus exhibit before 
the eyes of men, are doubtless to be the efUcaceous means of 
teaching men the new system of philosophy, which sets at 
defiance, and contemns all old and settled opinions, by 
which the government of nations and the conduct of indi- 
viduals have heretofore been directed." ^ 

As to the .organization's seal, no description can do it 
justice.* A view of its square and compass, pillars, and 
skull and cross-hones best indicates its horrid nature.' 

' Morse's Sermon, p. 46. 
' Ibid., pp. 46 et seq. 
'Ibid., p. 47. 
« Ibid. 
5 Ibid. 


Fortified by these documents, and flanked by the testi- 
monies of Robison and Barruel,^ Morse concluded his pre- 
sentment in the following energetic manner : 

That there are branches and considerably numerous too, of 
this infernal association in this country we have now full 
proof. That they hold and propagate similar doctrines and 
maxims of conduct is abundantly evident from what is passing 
continually before our eyes. They even boast that their plans 
are deeply and extensively laid, and cannot be defeated, that 
success is certain. If then, Americans, we do not speedily 
take for our motto. Vigilance, Union and Activity, and act 
accordingly, we must except soon to fall victims to the arts 
and the arms of that nation, " on the title page of whose laws, 
as well as on its standards, is written the emphatic and de- 
scriptive motto 


' Naturally, Morse had not failed to make use of his European 
authorities in preparing his sermon for the eyes of the general public. 
There was, of course, no new evidence to be derived from this source. 

' Morse's Sermon, p. 48. The immediate source from which Morse 
obtained the documents of which he made such large and confident 
use in this sermon, constitutes an interesting subject of inquiry. 
Happily that source is fully disclosed in the following extract from a 
letter which Morse addressed to Wolcott, Dec. 6, 1799: 

"... I wish all the evidence whh can be procured to substantiate 
the truth of what I have published. As the documents came 
through your hands, I have thought it proper to apply to you on 
the subject, as well as for evidence as for your advice as to the 
manner of exhibiting it. — I wish only to be assisted in defending 
myself to the satisfaction of candid & good men.'' (Wolcott 
Papers, vol. viii, 30.) 

The canniness of Oliver Wolcott's Federalism is quite as much illu- 
minated by this letter as is Jedediah Morse's caution and generosity in 
assuming responsibility for the publication of the documents referred 
to. That Wolcott had been instrumental in furnishing Morse's quiver 
with the arrows which Morse discharged from his bow on the occasion 
of the 1799 fast, was soon suspected in Democratic circles. Cf. Aurora, 
Feb. 14, 1800. (In this connection it may be remarked that Wolcott 


Here, at last, was something reasonably concrete. After 
a full year, devoted mostly to the reiteration of vague sus- 
picions and generalities, of reckless affirmations and denials, 
here was something which had the value of a definite point 
at which a rational investigation of the subject could begin, 
should any course so practical as this be thought of. The 
hour for the introduction of something tangible in the way 
of evidence had fully come, in any event. This was evi- 
denced by the fact that in connection with the celebration 
of the national fast other clergymen, for the most part, 
had held back, apparently unwilling to commit themselves 
further on the subject of the Illuminati until clearer 
proof should be at hand.^ This did not signify that public 

was not the only New England Federalist who came into possession of 
portions of the correspondence of Wisdom Lodge. The Pickering 
MSS., vol. xlii, 37, presents a copy of another letter which in this 
instance was sent by the Portsmouth lodge to the lodge Verity and 
Union, in Philadelphia. The letter bears date of April 12, 1798. Its 
value for the purposes of this investigation is nil. How it came to be 
in Pickering's possession is not known. The implication is strong that 
the Federalists were eager to exploit the documents to the utmost.) 

^ As far as the records show, no other minister in New England may 
be said to have spoken emphatically upon the subject on the occasion 
of the fast. It was Morse alone who galvanized the issue into new life. 
The general tenor of the utterances of the clergy on the day of the fast 
may be judged from the following typical examples. At Concord, the 
Reverend Hezekiah Packard, who made it known that he had read Dr. 
Morse's thanksgiving sermon and its appendix, descanted on the dan- 
gers to be apprehended from the existence of foreign intrigue among 
the citizens of this country. iHis language was general, though cer- 
tainly expressive of profound concern. Cf. Federal Republicanism, 
Displayed in Two Discourses, preached on the day of the State Fast at 
Chelmsford, and on the day of the National Fast at Concord, in April, 
J7Q9. By Hezekiah Packard, pastor of the church in Chelmsford. Bos- 
ton, 1799. At Franklin, Mass., the Reverend Nathaniel Emmons dis- 
coursed in similar vein. The French were pointed out as a nation 
which had corrupted every people whom they had subjugated. Further, 
Emmons asserted that things were happening in the United States 
which made it certain " some men [were] behind the curtain . . . push- 


interest in the subject had abated; it was rather in sus- 

With the appearance of Morse's third and last sermon 

ing on the populace to open sedition and rebellion." No direct refer- 
ence to the Illuniinati was made, however. Cf. A Discourse, delivered 
on the National Fast, April 25, 1799. By Nathaniel Emmons, D. D., 
pastor of the church in Franklin. Wrentham, Mass., 1799, p. 23. The pas- 
tor of the church in Braintree had also been reading Morse's thanksgiv- 
ing sermon. However, he had no definite word to speak on the subject 
of the lUuminati. France, he said, had her secret friends here, and the 
real truth of her designs were hidden from the American people. Cf. 
A Discourse, delivered April 25, 1799; being the day of Fasting and 
Prayer throughout the United States of America. By Ezra Weld, 
A. M., pastor of the church in Braintree. Boston, 1799. At Newbury- 
port, the Reverend Daniel Dana saw an exceedingly dark and ominous 
situation confronting him and his hearers. He spoke of a " deep-laid 
infernal scheme to hunt Christianity from the globe." It was his firm 
belief that all the foundations of reUgion and morality were frightfully 
imperiled. But he gave no clear intimation that he was thinking of 
the Illuminati. Two Sermons, 'delivered April 25, 1799; the day 
recommended by the President of the United States for National Hu- 
miliation, Fasting and Prayer. By Daniel Dana, A. M., pastor of a 
church in Newburyport. Newburyport, 1799, p. 45. In addition to 
Morse there was at least one other exception to the general reticence. 
A congregation at Sullivan, N. H.(?), heard a sermon full of wild and 
hysterical utterances, containing frequent references to the Illuminati, 
to Robison and Barruel, with much stress laid upon the lugubrious 
idea that the church in America was about to drink a cup of persecution 
exceedingly bitter. This sermon, however, was much too irrational to 
be of special significance. The Present Times Perilous. A Ser- 
mon, preached at Sullivan, on the National Fast, April 25, 1799. By 
Abraham Cummings, A. M., (n. d.). It would not be altogether incor- 
rect to observe that the New England clergy, on the occasion of the 
national fast of 1799, took their cue direct from the President's procla- 
mation rather than from the literature which had previously been pub- 
lished on the subject of lUuminism. 

' This is certainly a reasonable inference from the fact that the in- 
terest of the public in Morse's sermon made necessary four different 
issues of it during the year in which it appeared. One of these was 
printed at Charlestown, another at Boston, a third at Hartford, and a 
fourth at New York. 


dealing with the Illuminati/ the pubHc discussion of the 
subject became immediately possessed of a new energy. In 
a letter to Wolcott, bearing date of June 5, 1799, Morse 
observed to his friend, " I expect that I have disturbed a 
hornet's nest." - There can be no doubt that, diction con- 

■ Here it may be noted that when Morse's sermon appeared in print, 
it was accompanied by a note setting forth the author's account of the 
progress of his thought regarding the Illuminati. In part the note ran 
as follows: "In my Discourse on the National Fast, May 9th., 1798, 
after giving some account of Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy, etc., a 
work which had just arrived in America, I said, 'There are too many 
evidences that this order [the Illuminati] has had its branches estab- 
lished, in some form or other, and its emissaries secretly at work in 
this country, for several years past.' 

" Being often publicly called upon for evidence to support this in- 
sinuation, I engaged, when my health and leisure would permit, to lay 
it before the public. This engagement was in part fulfilled, in the 
Appendix to my Thanksgiving Sermon of Nov. 29, 1798, Note (F), p. 
73, to which I refer the reader. 

" Since this 1 have received a letter from President Dwight, con- 
firming the fact which he had asserted in a note to his Discourse of 
the 4th of July, 1798, viz, that ' Illuminatism exists in this country ; and 
the impious mockery of the Sacramental 'Supper described by Mr. 
Robison has been enacted here.' .... 

" But if all this evidence, added to that which arises prima facie 
from the existing state of things; from the wonderful and alarming 
change which has been suddenly and imperceptibly produced too gen- 
erally in the principles and morals of the American people, be in- 
sufficient to convince and satisfy candid minds of the actual existence, 
and secret and extensive operation, of Illuminatism in this country, the 
following documents which were received through a most respectable 
channel, and for the authenticity of which I pledge myself, must, I 
conceive, remove every doubt remaining in the minds of reasonable 
men. If any branches of this Society are established in this part of 
the United iStates, the members no doubt will feel irritated at this 
disclosure, and will use all their secret arts, and open endeavours, to 
diminish the importance of these documents and the reputation of 
him who makes them public." (Note B, pp. 33 et seq.) The note 
concludes with a solemn statement by its author to the effect that he 
stands prepared to sacrifice all, even his life if necessary, for the 
cause of religion and his country. See also the preface of the sermon. 

' Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 26. 


ceded, this was an apt estimate of the situation. In view of 
the experiences which were ahead of him, it was well that 
Morse found his serenity of mind such as to enable him to 
complete the remark just recorded, by adding, " Happily, I 
am fearless of their stings." ^ 

The breaking-out of a heated newspaper discussion sup- 
plied the principal evidence that Morse's fast' day sermon 
of 1799 inaugurated a new stage in the Illuminati agitation. 

The Independent Chronicle, aware of the fact that some- 
thing tangible was now before the public, something which 
might perhaps seriously influence the popular judgment, 
promptly abandoned its contemptuous and indiscriminative 
policy - and violently assailed Morse for his latest perform- 
ance. The author of the fast sermon was sharply taken to 
task for handling the Illuminati matter as he did. If, in 
his judgment, there was substantial justification for the 
charges he had made, why then did he not submit the evi- 
dence to President Adams, or lay it before some other 
proper official of the government, instead of retailing " the 
alarming narrative in a nine-penny sermon ?" * If it was 
true that there was a society plotting the overthrow of our 
government and Morse could throw any light whatever on 
the persons involved, what sense was there in treating the 
subject " in so loose a manner as to render it only subser- 
vient to a second or third edition of a political fulmina- 
tion ?" * Morse could have only political ends in view. His 

' Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 26. 

^ On the very day of the national fast the editor of the Chronicle 
busied himself at his familiar task of rebuking the clergy on account 
of their practice of indulging in " political preaching ". The latter were 
again admonished to confine their attention to the divine book of 
Revelation and to abandon their interest in the reveries of Robison. 
This, however, was only such a jibe as had intermittently issued from 
this source. 

' Independent Chronicle, May 9, 1799. 



" plot " was another Federalist scheme. He wished to ex- 
cite jealousies against a certain class of citizens/ i. e., the 
Democrats. Or, was it to be inferred from the way he 
handled " the trifling story of the Illuminati," that he de- 
sired to incense and greatly anger the people of this country 
against France? ^ This suspicion would seem to be justi- 
fied by the fact that Morse had preached and published a 
number of sermons, in all of which he had anathematized 
the French nation as the authors of the diabolical system of 
Illuminatism." But whatever were the motives which ani- 
mated him, his statements were not to be trusted. He had 
forfeited the right to be taken seriously.* 

During the two or three months that followed the cele- 
bration of the national fast, a copious flood of contributed 
articles poured through the columns of the Chronicle.^ " A 
Friend to a Real Clergyman, and an Enemy to Bigotry," 
" Bunker Hill," " Credulity," " Daniel," et al, all made 
their offerings to the airing of what the opposition unani- 
mously agreed should be styled " the preposterous docu- 
ments of Morse." If a friend and supporter of the Charles- 
town pastor ventured to express his respect for the argu- 
ments of that gentleman, he had little to hope for in the 
face of the withering fire of sarcasm, ridicule, denial, and 
defiance that the opposition steadily maintained. Thus, for 
example, when " Senex," an old contributor to the Chron- 
icle, made public profession of the fact that Morse's evi- 
dence had seriously shaken his earlier distrust of the " Illu- 
minati conspiracy," " " Credulity " hastened to " pooh- 

1 Independent Chronicle, May 30, 1799. 
3 Ibid. 

* Ibid., June 10, 1799. 

s Cf. especially the Independent Chronicle of May 9, 13, 16, 20, 27, 
30, and June 3, 6, 10, 13, 1799- 
^Ihid., May 13, i799- 


pooh " such anxious fears, and to insist that they were un- 
worthy of a sensible man. Morse's declarations on the sub- 
ject of Illuminism deserved only to be laughed at. They 
were certainly utterly out of reason.^ 

The American Mercury was another newspaper that ral- 
lied to the effort to break down any favorable impressions 
which Morse's latest deliverance upon the subject of Illu- 
minism may have made upon the public mind. The re- 
spectfully attentive and receptive attitude of this journal 
during the earlier stages of the agitation has already been 
noted.^ The appearance of the fast day sermon converted 
this into a spirit of violent antagonism, Morse's latest ser- 
mon was pronounced absurd. " His history of the Lodge 
of Wisdom is equally fabulous with his story of the ship 
Ocean," * was the judgment of Editor Babcock.* A few 
weeks later the Mercury gave to its readers an article that 
had first seen the light in the Farmer's Weekly Museum,^ a 
New Hampshire publication. How roughly Morse and the 
documentary proofs which he had recently laid before the 
public were handled in this article, the following excerpts 
will suggest: 

^ Independent Chronicle, May 20, 1799. 

2 Cf. supra, pp. 281 et seq. 

' The ship Ocean was a vessel of the United States concerning which, 
in the spring of 1799, the statement got into circulation that it had 
been captured by the French and every soul on board foully mur- 
dered. No such massacre actually took place. Morse, however, heard 
the story, believed it, and made reference to it in his fast sermon of 
April 25, 1799. Later, and not unnaturally, he became disturbed over 
the part he had played in giving publicity to the story. His integrity, 
he believed, was involved; likewise the faith of the public in other 
pronouncements he had made, e. g. with regard to the Illuminati. See 
Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 27. And this was the view of the case that 
his enemies took. Cf. for instance, the Aurora, June 6, 1799. 

* American Mercury, June 6, 1799. 
" Printed at Walpole, N. H. 


Every person who had an opportunity of perusing the sermons 
which have been pubhshed by Dr. Morse, within the space of 
two years past, must be sensible how great have been his 
efforts and exertions, to sound an alarm amongst the people, 
and to create in the public mind the highest degree of aston- 
ishment. . . . From the assurance with which the Dr. speaks 
of his discovery and the great utility which must result from 
it to mankind, one would imagine that his name would be en- 
rolled among the worthies of his day, as the greatest orna- 
ment of our country, and the glory of human nature. . . . He 
will undoubtedly do more honour to himself and his profession, 
to return again to his old business, " of writing geography," 
and not thus attempt to agitate the public mind, with such 
alarming discoveries of Illuminatism. 

For trifles, light as air, are to the suspicious. 
Strong as proofs of holy writ.^ 

Meanwhile the supporters of Morse were not idle, al- 
though it must be admitted that as far as the press was 
concerned the amount of sympathy and support that Morse 
received from that quarter was by no means commensurate 
to the weight of criticism with which his opponents sought 
to crush him. Extracts from his recent fast sermon ap- 
peared in such papers as the Massachusetts Mercury ' and 
the Salem Gazette; ^ and with characteristic loyalty to 
every interest which in any way might be able to serve the 
cause of Federalism, the Connecticut Courant proclaimed its 
complete satisfaction with Morse's production in the fol- 
lowing reckless fashion : 

This sermon is worthy the attention of every inhabitant in 
the United States on every account, as it contains an authentic 

^American Mercury, Aug. 29, 1799. Cf. also The Bee (New Haven), 
Aug. 21, 1799. 
2 Cf. issue of May 7, 1799. 
•'' Cf. issue of May 10, 1799. 


letter from the Grand Lodge of Illuminated Free Masons in 
France, to the Grand Lodge of the Illuminated Free Masons 
in the United States, together with a list of about one hun- 
dred members — their names — birthplace — age — ^places of resi- 
dence, and occupation. Every person who does not wish to 
be blind to his own destruction, will undoubtedly furnish him- 
self with this document; since it establishes beyond a doubt 
the existence of that infernal club in the very heart of our 
country. '^ 

A larger measure of support of Morse and his cause 
came from the public declaimers, who, on the occasion of 
the Fourth of July following, regaled their audiences with 
discursive observations on the state of national afifairs. All 
over New England citizens were solemnly urged to take 
serious account of the conspiracy that recently had been 
partially dragged into the light. 

At Ridgefield, Connecticut, the declaration was made that 
America had been caught in the meshes of the net which 
the Illuminati had attempted to cast over all the nations.^ 
At New Haven it was asserted that the societies of Illu- 
minism, having wrought fearful havoc and ruin in Europe, 
were now known to be extensively engaged in communicat- 
ing infection and death to the citizens and institutions of 
this nation.^ At Hartford the society of the Illuminati and 
the occult lodges of Freemasonry were represented as hav- 
ing " exhausted the powers of the human mind, in inventing 
and combining a series of dread mysteries, unhallowed 

1 Connecticut Courant, May 27, 1799. 

2 An Oration delivered at RidgUeld on the Fourth of July, 1799, 
before a large concourse of people, assembled to commemorate their 
National Independence. By David Edmond. Danbury . . . MDCCXCIX, 
p. 10. 

8 An Oration, on the Apparent and the Real Political Situation 
of the United States, pronounced before the Connecticut Society of 
the Cincinnati, assembled at New-Haven .. .July 4th, 1799. By 
Zechariah Lewis, . . . New-Haven, 1799, p. 16. 


machinations, and disastrous plots," with the dissemination 
of the principles of Voltaire and his school as the main ob- 
jective in view/ At Boston direct connections were made 
between the secret affiliated societies which the virtuous 
frown of Washington drove into their lurking-places and 
the newly discovered organizations which had just been 
found to be " busily engaged in sapping the foundations of 
society, and may ere long spring a mine, which shall blow 
up our Constitution and Liberties." " At Portland, Maine, 
the unwilling prostitution of the Masonic lodges in Europe 
to the purposes of the Illuminati was pointed out as amount- 
ing to a threat against the institutions of America.^ At 
Byfield * and Roxbury,'' Massachusetts, similar warnings 
were heard. 

To a certain extent, the general employment of this anni- 
versary of national independence to arouse the country 
against the machinations of the Illuminati was due to an 
event, long anticipated, that had occurred shortly before. 
Less than a month prior to July 4, 1799, Barruel's Memoirs 
of Jacobinism made its first appearance in New England." 

1 An Oration spoken at Hartford . . on the Anniversary of 
American Independence, July 4th, A. D., 1799. By William Brown. 
Hartford . . . 1799, pp. 6 et seqq. 

2 An Oration, pronounced July 4th, 1799, at the request of the In- 
habitants of the Town of Boston, in Commemoration of the Anniversary 
of American Independence. By John Lowell, Junior. Boston, 1799, p. 2i. 

3 An Oration, delivered before the citizens of Portland . . . on the 
Fourth of July, 1799... By A. Stoddard. Portland, 1799, pp. 10, 11, 
13, 29 et seq. 

*An Oration delivered at Byfield, July 4, i799- By Rev. Elijah 
Parish, A. M. Newburyport (n. d.). 

= An Oration, delivered at Roxbury, July 4, 1799. In Commemor- 
ation of American Independence. By Thomas Beede. Boston, 1799. 

♦ The Connecticut Courant of June 10, 1799, carried to its readers the 
announcement that "the Ilird volume of the History of Jacobinism" 
had just been received by Messrs. Hudson & Goodwin, the editors, and, 
along with volumes i and ii, was on sale. 


The hopes of the supporters of the agitation were imme- 
diately raised. 

Before the publication of the documents which Morse 
gave 'to the world in his fast sermon of 1799, Robison's 
Proofs of a Conspiracy constituted the chief if not the sole 
resource of the friends of the agitation. Barruel had been 
appealed to, but only in the form of such scanty excerpts 
from his writings as percolated to America through the 
fingers of his English reviewers and, as we have seen, in 
settings which provided ammunition for both sides in the 
controversy. Now the hour had come when the supporters 
of the Illuminati alarm in New England were to be privi- 
leged to make a full and free appeal to their second great 
ally from abroad.^ 

The facts regarding the nature of the reception accorded 
Barruel's composition in New England are meagre in the 
extreme. In this very circumstance, one may suppose, is 
found the best of all evidences that the book failed to fulfil 
the hopes of its friends. It is true that within seven weeks 
after the public announcement of the fact that the Memoirs 
of Jacobinism were ready for distribution at Hartford, one 
of Morse's correspondents at that place was able to assure 
him that " the facts ... in Du Pan, Robison, and Barruel 
have got into every farm house " in that section of the 
country. ' It is also true that in order to insure a wide 

' Jedediah Morse was certainly one of those who hoped for much from 
the appearance of Barruel's work in America. On October 3, 1799, he 
wrote to the American publishers of the Memoirs of Jacobinism, ex- 
pressing his gratification over the receipt of six copies of volumes i 
and ii (bound in one) of the same, and arranging to have the remain- 
ing volumes forwarded to him at the earliest possible date. Cf. Morse's 
letter to Messrs. Hudson & Goodwin, in the Ford Collection, New 
York Public Library. Morse's urgency in the case is partly explained 
by the fact that at this time he was being drawn deeply into the 
Ebeling-Huntington-Babcock-Bentley-Morse controversy, to be noticed 

* Wolcott Papers, vol. v, 77. Cf. Salem Gazette, Aug. 13, 1799. 


reading of what were supposed to be the more significant 
portions of Barruel's voluminous work, an abridgment of it 
was undertaken and pubHshed in the columns of such lead- 
ing papers as the Connecticut Courant ^ and the Massachu- 
setts Mercury.^ Nevertheless, the inference is unavoidable 
that at the most the cause of the agitators received only a 
momentary quickening from this quarter. If anything, the 
very flatness of the reception accorded Barruel's work served 
to quiet the public mind in New England on the subject of 
Illuminism. The precious conceit which the supporters of 
the charge of an American conspiracy of the Illuminati had 
imported from abroad, viz., that the two " great " Euro- 
pean writers on the subject of Illuminism, Robison and 
Barruel, while working independently had unearthed the 
same set of facts and arrived at the same conclusion as to 
their import, fell quickly enough to the ground. Whatever 
the facts might be regarding the situation in Europe, it 
speedily became clear that Barruel had no clear and steady 
light to throw upon the situation in America, and even those 
who hoped most from the publication of the Memoirs of 
Jacobinism were soon forced to admit that the American 

1 Cf. the issues of the Courant for June 24, July i, 8, 15, 29, Aug. 5, 
12, ig, 26, Sept. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Oct. 7, 1799. The partisan object in 
view in making and publishing this abridgment of Barruel is thinly- 
veiled in the following statement of the editors : " We have not, indeed, 
much, to apprehend from external invasion, but our greatest dangers 
arise from a disorganizing party among ourselves, who will recognize 
no government, except in bacchanalian curses, and the sanguinary 
notions of a blind, seditious, and corrupted crowd — who will be guided 
by no laws except what are conceived in the womb of crime, the weak- 
ness and absurdity of which will be calculated to establish the reign of 
licentiousness, and consolidate the empire of sedition and conspiracy." 
(Connecticut Courant, July 8, 1798J ''. 

2C/. the issues of the Mercury for July 30, Aug. 9, 13, 16, 20, 27, 
Sept. 3, 6, 17, 24, Oct. I, 8, 22, 29, 1799- Other papers, the Columbian 
Centinel, for example, began the publication of the Abridgement, but 
discontinued the series before the end was reached. 


reading public had little taste for the prolix romancings of 
the French abbe/ 

^ The entire indifference to the Abridgement which many New Eng- 
land editors manifested was the occasion of no little disappointment 
and chagrin on the part of those who had hoped for material assist- 
ance and comfort from this source. Cf. Connecticut Courant, July 22, 
1799. With regard to the general impression which the Memoirs of 
Jacobinism made in this country, the comments of Thomas Jefferson 
are of interest. Though based upon an imperfect acquaintance with 
Barruel's work, considerable sound criticism is expressed. " I have 
lately by accident got sight of a single volume (the 3d.) of the Abbe 
Barruel's ' Antisocial Conspiracy ', which gives me the first idea I have 
ever had of what is meant by the Illuminatism against which ' Illu- 
minate Morse ', as he is now called, and his ecclesiastical and monarchi- 
cal associates have been making such a hue and cry. Barruel's own parts 
of the book are perfectly the ravings of a Bedlamite. But he quotes 
largely from Wishaupt [sic] whom he considers the founder of what 
he calls the order . . . Wishaupt seems to be an enthusiastic philan- 
thropist. He is among those (as you know the excellent Price and 
Priestley also are) who believe in the infinite perfectibility of man. 
He thinks he may in time be rendered so perfect that he will be able 
to govern himself in every circumstance, so as to injure none, to do 
all the good he can, to leave government no occasion to exercise their 
powers over him, and, of course, to render political government use- 
less. This, you know, is Godwin's doctrine, and this is what Robison, 
Barruel, and Morse have called a conspiracy against all government. 
. The means he proposes to effect this improvement of human nature 
are ' to enlighten men, to correct their morals and inspire them with 
benevolence'. As Wishaupt Hved under the tyranny of a despot and 
priests, he knew that caution was necessary even in spreading informa- 
tion, and the principles of pure morality. He proposed, therefore, to 
lead the Free Masons to adopt this object. . . This has given an air 
of mystery to his views, was the foundation of his banishment, the 
subversion of the Masonic Order, and is the color for the ravings 
against him of Robison, Barruel, and Morse, whose real fears are that 
the craft would be endangered by the spreading of information, reason, 
andi natural morality among men. ... I believe you will think with 
me that if Wishaupt had written here, where no secrecy is necessary 
in our endeavours to render men wise and virtuous, he would not have 
thought of any secret machinery for that purpose ..." (The Writ- 
ings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. vii, p. 419 : Letter to Bishop James 


Early in the fall of 1799 a new twist was given to the 
controversy. This developed out of an episode that for the 
time at least seriously embarrassed the personal integrity of 
Morse, and enveloped the issue generally in such a cloud of 
pettiness and disagreeable suspicions that the entire subject 
of Illuminism assumed an unsavory aspect, with the result 
that the public was all the more easily persuaded to turn 
to other and more fruitful topics. Compressed as much 
as the interests of clarity will allow, the facts were as 

The American Mercury of September 26, 1799, published 
an article asserting that in his efforts to substantiate his 
charges against the Illuminati, Morse had addressed a letter 
of inquiry to Professor Ebeling ^ of Hamburg, Germany, to 
which the latter made response that Robison's Proofs of a 
Conspiracy had no standing in Europe; that it was regarded 
there as a farrago of falsehoods, written by its author to 
obtain bread rather than in the hope that it would be be- 
lieved.^ It was further asserted that Ebeling's letter to 
Morse gave Robison an unsavory character ; he was said to 
have lived too fast for his income, to be in trouble with the 
civil authorities in his native country, and to have been ex- 
pelled from a Masonic lodge in Edinburgh on account of 
unworthy conduct.* This being the true state of affairs, 
why, it was urged, ought not " the terrible subject of illu- 
mination " to be dismissed forthwith as a wretched mass 

'Christopher D. Ebeling (1741-1817) was a German geographer and 
historian who was greatly interested in everything relating to America. 
In 1794 he was elected a corresponding member of the Massachusetts 
Historical Society. He was in correspondence with such public char- 
acters in America as Morse, Dr. Jeremy Belknap, President Stiles, and 
Thomas Jefferson. After his death, Ebeling's large and valuable library 
became the property of Harvard University. 

2 Cf. op. cit. 

3 Ibid. 


of absurdities? Let Morse publish the letter that he had 
received from Ebehng and the public would express itself 
quickly enough as to the silliness of the Illuminati conspiracy.^ 
Morse's rejoinder was spirited. He demanded the name 
of the author of the article in the Mercury and vigorously 
protested that the Ebeling letter referred to was a fabrica- 
tion.^ Denied the comfort of immediate attention and 
satisfaction/ he addressed the editor again and with even 
greater vehemence, insisting that the editor publicly brand 
the article referred to as " without foundation and a tissue 
of the most vile and calumnious falsehoods." But for the 
one consideration that the letter which he had actually re- 
ceived from Professor Ebeling was private, he averred that 
he stood ready to spread it before the public gaze.* As a 
guarantee of its character, however, he stood prepared to 

^ American Mercury, Sept. 26, 1799. The entire article was well calcu- 
lated to nettle the feelings of Morse. He was referred to therein as " a 
celebrated . calumniator of Masonry " and " an eagle-eyed detector of 
Illuminatism.'' The concluding statement was peculiarly humiliating and 
irritating: "Many people wonder why the Rev. Granny, who has officiated 
at the birth of so many mice (when Mountains have travailed), had not 
published the letter he has lately received from Professor Ebeling: many 
others suppose he will publish it as an Appendix to his next Fast-Day 
Sermon." In addition to the American Mercury, the Bee and the Aurora 
both published this account of the Ebeling-Morse letter. Cj. the edition 
of the former for Oct. 9, 1799, and of the latter for Nov. 25, Dec 6, 9, 
1799. Thus wide publicity was given to the matter, on account of 
which Morse was justly aroused. 

2 American Mercury, Nov. 7, 1799. Cf. Columbian Centinel, Nov. 
23, 1799. 

'Morse's letter to Babcock, editor of the American Mercury, bore 
date of October 4, 1799. It drew no further response from Babcock 
than a private epistle, calling upon Morse to refute the statements which 
had appeared in the Mercury, and promising that then the editor's 
" man " would be produced. Cf. American Mercury, Nov. 7, 1799. 

* American Mercury, Nov. 14, 1799. Cf. Columbian Centinel, Nov. 
23. 1799- 


furnish the affidavits of Professors David Tappan and Eli- 
phalet Pearson of Harvard, to whom he had submitted 
the letter of Ebeling for their inspection, and who were 
ready to depose that it was in no sense like the letter whose 
contents had been given to the public by the American 

By the time these noisy verbal hostilities had taken 
place, the leading newspaper partisans on both sides of the 
controversy had accepted the responsibility of advising the 
public regarding the new issue. The Connecticut Courant 
roundly denounced the unprincipled editor of the Americam 
Mercury for having printed such a monstrous fabrication 
as its account of the Ebeling-Morse letter,^ and later, on 
Morse's behalf, undertook to say that while the communi- 
cation which Morse had received from Ebeling contained 
denials of the authenticity of many of the facts alleged in 
the Proofs of a Conspiracy, at the same time it was desti- 
tute of even the most distant suggestion of moral or other 
delinquencies on the part of Robison.^ The Columbian 
Centinel regarded itself in duty bound to spread before its 
readers the indignant communication that Morse had sent 
to the editor of the American Mercury, for the reason that 
it believed Morse had been most shamefully treated in the 
matter.* As for the Massachusetts Mercury, one of its 
contributors felt moved to observe that the account of the 
Ebeling-Morse letter which the American Mercury had pub- 
lished was nothing less than a consummate piece of pure 

^American Mercury, Nov. 14, 1799- The aiRdavits of Tappan and 
Pearson were actually oiTered in evidence later. Cf. Connecticut 
Courant, May 19, 1800; Massachusetts Mercury, May 23, 1800. 

2 Cf. the issue of this paper for Sept. 30, 1799- 

3 Ibid., Nov. 4, 1799- 

* Cf. article by " Candidus " in the issue of this paper for Nov. 23, 


villainy, intended to ruin Mr. Robison's character ; certainly 
no candid American would pay the slightest attention to it 
until the person who was responsible for the publication 
came forward and gave the public his name.^ 

On the other side, such rampant Democratic journals as 
the Bee and the Aurora came ardently to the support of 
the American Mercury and directed a searching cross-fire 
against Morse and his friends. Since the days of Salem 
witchcraft, the former observed, no subject had so much 
affected the minds of a certain class of people in New Eng- 
land as this pretended Illuminati conspiracy.^ Because of 
the way in which preachers, orators, essayists, and news- 
mongers generally had declaimed upon the subject, a mist 
had overspread the public mind. Ebeling's letter to Morse, 
however, had given a fatal blow to the strife. It was now 
to be expected that the impressions made upon the minds 
of numerous over-credulous citizens by an insidious and 
designing set of men would be fully eradicated.* To give 
full force to these observations, the Bee published the text 
of the letter which, it averred, Morse had received from 
Ebeling.* This characterized Robison's Proofs of a Con- 
spiracy as ridiculous and filled with statements many of 
which were faulty and others totally erroneous. Its author 
had composed the book in the interests of party and with a 
special animus against all men who asserted the use of 
reason in the sphere of theology. The authorities to which 
Robison appealed were declared to be questionable, and 
Robison's own standing as a historian was pronounced to 
be such that it was impossible to take his work seriously."^ 

1 Cf. the issue of this paper for Dec, 27, 1799. 

2 Cf. Bee, Nov. 20, 1799. 

3 Ibid. 

^Ibid., Nov. 20, 27, 1799, 
^ Ibid., Nov. 20, 1799. 


The Aurora steered a similar course. Drawing upon the 
Bee, the text of the alleged Ebeling-Morse letter was 
printed ^ and the accompanying comment made that this 
effectually disposed of the Illuminati.^ It was now fully 
apparent that Morse had seized upon the idea of a con- 
spiracy against religion and the state in order to further 
selfish and partisan ends. He and Dr. Dwight, who were 
at the head of the clerical systems in Massachusetts and 
Connecticut respectively, were exhausting all the means in 
their power to exalt Federalism and to obtain a religious 
establishment which would deliver the consciences and 
purses of the nation into the hands of their party.* The 
rancor that these two men had recently stirred up against 
the respectable fraternity of Freemasons was due solely to 
their bigotry.* 

Meantime a certain shrewd and none too scrupulous 
Democratic clergyman in Massachusetts was deriving such 
satisfaction as he could out of Morse's discomfiture and 
bitter resentment. The letter that the Bee and the Aurora 
published as a letter from Ebeling to Morse was in fact a 
letter from Ebeling to William Bentley,'' inveterate hater 
of Morse." 

1 Cf. Aurora, Nov. 16, 25, Dec. 6, 9, 1799. 

^Ihid., Nov. 16, 1799. 

3 Ibid. 

* Ibid. 

= This fact was acknowledged by Ebeling. Cf. Ebeling MSS. : Ebel- 
ing's letters to Bentley, July 28, 1800; July i, 1801. 

•From 1798 on, Bentley's Diary is replete with ill-tempered and 
abusive references to Morse. Cf. for example, vol. ii, pp. 278, 291, 
296, 302, 329, 334, 384, 391; vol. iii, pp. 9, 32, 141, 149, 217, 218, 342, 
357 et seq., 431 ; vol. iv, pp. 209, 241. Bentley's enthusiastic devotion 
to Freemasonry and his rancorous republicanism were largely respon- 
sible for his personal feeling towards Morse ; but there also appears to 
have been a disagreeable and petty personal element in the situation. 


Ebeling, it appears, had written the letters to Bentley and 
to Morse at about the same time.^ A little after the receipt 
of his letter, Bentley had learned from Ebeling that Doctors 
Pearson, Tappan, and Morse all were inquiring of Ebeling 
concerning Robison's standing as a historian, and that the 
Hamburg professor had addressed Morse at length upon 
the subject/ Further, he received clear hints from EbeHng 
as to the precise nature of the communications to Morse." 
Bentley, therefore, had substantial reasons for believing that 
he was in full possession of the information that Ebeling 
had furnished Morse regarding the subsidence of the Illu- 
minati craze in Europe and the unfavorable opinions of 
Robison that were entertained on the other side of the 
Atlantic. It certainly was not to his credit, however, that 
he should permit a letter which he himself had received 
from Ebeling to be published as a communication from 
Ebeling to Morse.* 

Under the circumstances, Morse was placed in a position 

Bentley was peevish and spiteful towards Morse because he believed 
that the latter had stirred up one of the creditors of the elder Bentley 
to attempt to collect a debt from the son. Cf. Bentley, Diary, vol. iv, 
pp. 241 et seq. Even before the Illuminati agitation broke out in New 
England, Bentley found it impossible to repress his low opinion of 
Morse as a geographer and as a man. Cf. ibid., vol. ii, pp. 64, 70. 

1 Cf. Ebeling MSS. : Ebeling's letter to Bentley, March 13, 1799. 

2 Ibid. : Ebeling's letter to Bentley, March 28, 1799. 
s Ibid. 

' In view of the fact that Ebeling had instructed Bentley that his 
letter was not to be given to the public, and that if by any chance 
it should find its way into print, it was to be expurgated and pre- 
sented to the public only in part, he felt aggrieved at Bentley for 
paying attention to none of his instructions. Ebeling's great fear 
seems to have been that his mention of living personages in European 
politics would be likely to create serious embarrassments. Neverthe- 
less, he assured Bentley that he was not disposed to be deeply hurt over 
the appearance of the letter in the American press. Cf. ibid. : Ebeling's 
letters to Bentley, July 28, 1800, July i, 1801. 


of embarrassment and humiliation from which he found it 
impossible wholly to extricate himself.^ What is more to 
the point, the cause which in his misguided zeal he had been 
promoting was thus made to suffer an irreparable blow. 
With his personal integrity under grave suspicion and his 
main European ally held up to public ridicule and scorn, 
even Morse's obdurate spirit must have foreseen that the 
collapse of the agitation which he had fostered could not 
long be deferred. Even without this tumble into the slough 
of suspicion and contempt, time must soon have brushed 
aside as groundless the alarm that Morse had sounded. It 
is not difficult to imagine, however, that time might have 
found ways less vindictive and scurvy to dispose of the 
excited clamor of Morse. 

Driven to undertake some further effort at self-justifica- 
tion, ' the belated idea came to Morse to investigate the 
lodge Wisdom at Portsmouth, Virginia. Accordingly he 
addressed a letter to Josiah Parker, member of Congress 
for Virginia, soliciting information from Parker respecting 

1 Morse had ample justification for thinking himself thoroughly ill- 
used in this situation. The embarrassment that he experienced over 
the appearance of the letter in the Aurora and the Bee was enhanced 
by the fact that the account of the Ebeling-Morse letter published in 
the American Mercury, which tallied with the Aurora-Bee letter, was 
due to a confidence that Morse had given to a man whom he supposed 
to be friendly to his cause. A certain Samuel Huntington had visited 
him, to whom Morse read the letter he had received from Ebeling. 
Trusting to his memory, Huntington afterwards sent a communication 
to the American Mercury, purporting to contain a true account of the 
epistle that Morse had read to him. Cf. Bentley Correspondence, vol. 
i, 40: J. Eliot's letter to Bentley, July 26, 1802. Cf. The Mercury 
and New-England Palladium [successor to the Massachusetts Mercury], 
April 28, 1801. 

- The agitation against Morse became highly abusive and threatening. 
He was made the recipient of scurrilous and intimidating epistles, which 
did not stop short of promising physical chastisement. Cf. Wolcott 
Papers, vol. viii, 32, for a specimen of such documents. Cf. ibid., 30: 
Morse's letter to Wolcott, Dec. 6, 1799. 


the Portsmouth lodge. Parker responded to the effect that 
he had lived in Portsmouth until he went to Congress in 
1789; that the lodge Wisdom was regarded in that city as 
a reputable Masonic society, made up of a few worthy 
people, mostly French ; that some of its members were per- 
sonally known to the writer to be men warmly attached to 
the cause of the government ; that a good many Frenchmen 
had been admitted to the lodge about the time of the insur- 
rection on the island of St. Domingo, but that the most of 
these were not now in America; that some of the French- 
men whose names Morse had incorporated in his fast ser- 
mon of April 25, 1799, as members of Wisdom Lodge, were 
known to Parker to be honest and industrious men; in a 
word, that he, Parker, considered the lodge in question as 
entirely harmless as far as fomenting hostility to the insti- 
tutions of the country was concerned.^ 

The receipt of Parker's letter left Morse without further 
resource. Promptly he wrote his friend and adviser, Oliver 
Wolcott, soliciting his counsel as to whether it would be 
better for him to remain silent and let matters take their 
course or whether he would better offer to the public such 
explanations and observations as he could." The nature of 
Wolcott's counsel is unknown; but Morse, in any event, 
came to the conclusion that there was no further action he 
could take in the case, and his advocacy of the idea of an 
Illuminati conspiracy against religion and the government 

1 Wolcott Papers, 31. Cf. National Magazine, er a Political, Historical, 
Biographical, and Literary Repository, vol. ii, pp. 26 et seq. : article 
by Philalethes. Parker's observations are fully corroborated by this 
pseudonymous writer. That Wisdom Lodge was a regular Masonic 
lodge, organized under the Grand Orient of France, is further testi- 
fied to by Mackey, The History of Free Masonry, vol. v, p. 1420. 
Treudley, The United States and Santo Domingo, 1789-1866, pp. 111-125, 
adequately presents the essential facts bearing on the presence of the 
French refugees in the United States. 

2 Wolcott Papers, vol. viii, 31. 


ceased. Henceforth, the reverberations of the controversy, 
with a single exception, were to be of the nature of jibes 
and flings on the part of irritated and disgusted Democrats 
who adopted the position that the controversy over the lUu- 
tninati had been introduced into American politics to serve 
purely partisan ends. 

In 1802, the Reverend Seth Payson,^ minister of the Con- 
gregational church at Rindge, New Hampshire, made an 
«ffort to revive the agitation. In a volume ^ characterized 
by dismal mediocrity Payson fulminated against the public 
stupor that, he admitted, had taken the place of the sense of 
alarm that the discovery of the Illuminati conspiracy had 
originally caused.' Payson's book was nothing more than 
a revamping of the earlier literature, European and Amer- 
ican, on the subject. There is no evidence that it made the 
slightest impression on the country. 

4. freemasonry's embarrassment and protest 
Freemasonry in New England, as throughout the United 
States in general, was very far from being in a favorable 
condition when the Illuminati controversy broke out. Like 
every other institution in the country, it had suffered greatly 
on account of the American Revolution. The membership 
of its lodges was depleted, and its affairs generally left in a 
chaotic condition. In the period of reconstruction which 
followed the Revolution, Masonry experienced the same 
difficulty in rebuilding its organizations and investing them 

^ Payson (1758-1820) was a Harvard graduate, who located at 
Rindge in 1782, and continued in the pastorate at that place until death 
removed him, forty-eight years later. 

^Proofs of the Real Existence, and Dangerous Tendency, of 
Illuminism. Containing an abstract of the most interesting parts of 
-what Dr. Robison and the Abbe Barruel have published on this subject; 
with collateral proofs and general observations. By iSeth Payson, 
A. M., Charlestown, 1802. 

3 Ibid., pp. iii, 217 et seq., 243 et seq. 


with a fair degree of importance in the public eye as other 
social institutions of the times. To no little extent, this was 
due to internal dissensions and disintegrating tendencies 
generally. In the main these dissensions developed out of 
efforts which were made to create grand lodges of native 
origin, endowed with powers of sovereignty, to take the 
place in the system of American Masonry that formerly had 
been accorded to the grand lodges of England and Scotland. 
The spirit of independence communicated by the revolution- 
ary struggle had to be reckoned with by Masonic leaders in 
their efforts to give unity and solidity to the system.^ 

But other concerns than those of organization engaged 
the attention of those who sought the rehabilitation of the 
institution. In the literature of the times appears more than 
one stinging reference to the reproach under which Free- 
masonry rested on account of the low standards of conduct 
by which the private lives of its members and its assemblies 
were marked. Coarseness, profligacy, boisterousness, and 
conviviality, which in the latter case did not stop short of 
drunken revels, were common indictments brought against 
the lodges by friend and foe alike. ^ It cannot be doubted 

1 Mackey, Lexicon and History of Freemasonry, pp. 183 et seq. 
One of the most active and influential New England Masons of tht 
period was the Reverend William Bentley. The following references in 
his Diary throw light upon this phase of the situation : vol. ii, pp. 6-8, 
II, 12. Cf. also Myer's History of Free Masonry and Its Progress in 
the United States, p. 15. 

2 Cf. for example, a small volume entitled, Eulogium and Vindication 
of Masonry. Selected {and Improved) from Various Writers, Phila- 
delphia, 1792. The following excerpt is fairly tjrpical : " There are 
brethren who, careless of their own reputation, disregard the instinctive 
lessons of our noble science, and by yielding to vice and intemperance, 
not only disgrace themselves, but reflect dishonor upon Masonry in 
general. It is this unfortunate circumstance which has given rise to 
those severe and unjust reflections, which the prejudiced part of man- 
kind have so illiberally bestowed upon us." (Ibid., p. 11. Cf. ibid., 
p. 19.) This representation of the case is fully confirmed by The Free- 


that a considerable amount of the kind of rude and un- 
licensed behavior that displayed itself about many a New 
England tavern of the period was likewise to be observed 
in connection with the private and public performances of 
the craft. 

To this must be added another and, from our special point 
of view, more serious criticism. The spirit of democracy, 
it should not be forgotten, was working itself out in the 
common life of the times in manifold ways. The idea of 
human equality had become the very touchstone of life. 
New applications of this conception were constantly being 
made. In such a day it was inevitable that the secret and 
exclusive character of the assemblies and practices of Free^ 
masonry should make that institution widely suspected. 

mason's Monitor; or Illustrations of Masonry: in Two Parts. By a 
Royal 'Arch Mason . . . Albany, 1797, pp. 18 et seq. The following 
sermon, delivered by a non-Mason, is also suggestive in this connec- 
tion : A Discourse delivered in the New Presbyterian Church, New 
York: Before the Grand Lodge of the State of New York . . . June 
24th, 1795. By Samuel Miller, one of the Ministers of the United Pres- 
byterian Churches in the City of New York, 1795. Miller dwelt at length 
upon the suspicion and prejudice that existed against the Masons, due, 
as he argued, to (i) the order's veil of secrecy, (2) the number of men 
who have been a:dmitted to membership who were known to be the open 
enemies of religion and morality and a disgrace to human nature itself, 
and (3) the "scenes of vanity and folly" and "the froth of nonsense" 
by which too many Masonic gatherings were characterized. Cf. ibid., 
pp. 25 et seq. Despite the fact that the sermon was full of frankest 
criticism. Miller's composition was ordered printed by the Grand Lodge, 
doubtless for the principal reason that he had been at pains to distin- 
guish between genuine and spurious Masons. Thaddeus Harris, a 
prominent Massachusetts Mason, in a sermon preached at the conse- 
cration of a lodge at Groton, Mass., Aug. 9, i797. took account of the 
same criticism of the order. Cf. also, Bentley's Diary, vol. i, p. 379. 
Reference to such Masonic compilations as The Vocal Companion and 
Masonic Register, Boston, 1802, and The Maryland Ahiman Reson of 
Free and Accepted Masons . . . Baltimore, 1797, will not leave the 
reader in doubt that a good deal of the poetry and music employed 
in the lodges was excessively hilarious and coarse. 


Members of the fraternity were freely accused of support- 
ing an institution that failed to respond to the spirit of the 
times/ As a result of the stir occasioned by Washington's 
bold denunciation of " self -created societies," in 1794, this 
charge of dangerous and unjustifiable secrecy became a 
more powerful weapon in the hands of Freemasonry's ene- 
mies, whose blows were by no means easy to avoid. 

That a retrograde movement was on in the ranks of Amer- 
ican Masonry at the time the Illuminati controversy broke 
out is, however, by no means to be inferred. In most par- 
ticulars, the faults and weaknesses which have been noted 
represented common faults and weaknesses of the times. 
On the whole, as the eighteenth century drew to its close, 
Freemasonry in this country appeared to be slowly working 
its way up out of the state of disorganization and weakness 
by which its progress had been retarded during the two dec- 
ades that followed the Revolutionary War. It was in a day 
characterized by earnest and worthy striving, though not 
without its tokens of popular suspicion, that the accusation 
of an alliance with the odious Illuminati fell as a black 
shadow across its path. 

The response which Massachusetts Masonry made to the 
aspersions of Robison and his supporters ^ on this side of 

' In addition to the sermons of Miller and Harris cited in the fore- 
going note, cf. A Discourse on the Origin, Progress and Design of 
Free Masonry. Delivered at the Meeting-House in Charlestown, in the 
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the Anniversary of St. John the 
Baptist, June 24, A. D. 1793. By Josiah Bartlett, M. B., Boston, 1793, 
p. 17. The Rev. Ashbel Baldwin, chaplain of the grand lodge of 
Connecticut, in 1797, came to the defence of Masonry against the same 
charge. Cf. The Records of Free Masonry in the State of Connecticut, 
etc. By E. G. iStorer, Grand Secretary, New Haven, 1859, vol. i, pp. 
97 et seq. 

'Jedediah Morse's efforts, in his fast sermon of May 9, 1798, to 
avoid giving mortal offence to the Masons of New England, have 
already been noted. See supra, pp. 235 et seq. As Robison had sought 


the ocean was promptly forthcoming. On June 11, 1798, 
the Grand Lodge of that state drew up an address to Presi- 
dent Adams, from which the following generous extract is 

Sir: — 

Flattery, and a discussion of political opinions, are incon- 
sistent with the principles of this ancient Fraternity ; but while 
we are bound to cultivate benevolence, and extend the arm of 
charity to our brethren of every clime, we feel the strongest 
obligations to support the civil authority which protects us. 
And when the illiberal attacks of a foreign enthu3iast, aided 
by the unfounded prejudices of his followers, are tending to 
embarrass the public mind with respect to the real views of 
our society, we think it our duty to join in full concert with 
our fellow-citizens, in expressing gratitude to the Supreme 
Architect of the Universe, for endowing you with the wisdom, 
patriotic firmness and integrity, which has characterized your 
public conduct. 

While the Independencce of our country and the operation 
of just and equal laws have contributed to enlarge the sphere 
of social happiness, we rejoice that our Masonic brethren, 
throughout the United States, have discovered by their con- 
duct a zeal to promote the public welfare, and that many of 
them have been conspicuous for their talents and unwearied 
exertions. Among these your venerable successor is the most 
illustrious example; and the memory of our beloved Warren, "■ 
who from the chair of this Grand Lodge, has often urged the 

to exculpate the Masons of England, so Morse sought to exculpate the 
Masons of "the Eastern States." We shall see plenty of evidence, 
however, that New England Masons were not deceived. From the 
first they recognized with more or less clearness that Masonry itself 
was involved. The good name and integrity of their entire institution 
were at stake. 

■ General Joseph Warren, the Revolutionary patriot and hero, who 
fell at Bunker Hill, one of the most honored leaders of American 


members to the exercise of patriotism and philanthropy, and 
who sealed his principles with his blood; shall ever animate 
us to a laudable imitation of his virtues.^ 

In addition to this formal action taken by the Grand 
Lodge, prominent Massachusetts Masons began at once to 
employ such public occasions as the calendar and special 
events of the order supplied, to refute the charge that 
Masonry was in league with lUuminism. Preeminent among 
these apologists were the Reverend William Bentley and the 
Reverend Thaddeus Mason Harris.^ 

On the occasion of the Masonic festival of St. John the 
Baptist, June 25, 1798, Bentley delivered a charge before 
Morning Star Lodge, at Worcester, Massachusetts/ The 
clergy, he maintained, — not all the clergy, to be sure, but 
particularly those representatives of the clergy " who ply 
the shuttle-cock of faith, with the dexterity of expert game- 
sters, and have the art of making the multitude fly with its 
feathers," — are responsible for this new out-cry against the 
order.* It is the state of affairs in Europe that has caused 
general attention to be drawn to the order. During the 
century Masonry has flourished there in a remarkable way. 

1 Cf. Columbian Centinel, June 30, 1798; also Massachusetts Mercury, 
Aug. 21, 1798, for the address of the Grand Lodge in full, together 
with the President's cordial response. 

' Harris was Past Grand :Chaplain of the Grand Lodge and Chaplain 
of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Massachusetts. 

^ A Charge delivered before the Morning Star Lodge, in Wor- 
cester, Massachusetts, upon the festival of Saint John the Baptist, June 
25, A. L. 5798. By the Rev. Brother William Bentley, of Salem, Massa- 
chusetts. Worcester, June, A. L. 5798. (The initials A. L. in the 
foregoing title stand for Anno Lucis, and represent a common Masonic 
usage). This charge not only found independent publication, but got 
into the New England newspapers generally, and did much to distin- 
guish its author as a bold defender of the craft. 

* Ibid., p. 9. 


In the midst of an age full of apprehension respecting every- 
thing that suggests poHtical association, this rapid progress 
of Freemasonry, the character of its members, the coinci- 
dence of its designs, and its secrecy, have quite naturally 
conspired to give some appearance of danger. Yet no dis- 
coveries have been made which can fairly impeach the fra- 
ternity.^ As for the principles and work of Weishaupt, 
these ought not to be condemned outright, solely on the 
testimony of Robison.^ " We must leave Robison to an in- 
quisitive public," Bentley concluded, " and forgive a worthy 
divine who has noticed the book, and has made our order 
ridiculous." ^ 

Somewhat later in the year Harris delivered a number of 
addresses, in connection with the consecration of various 
lodges, in which he paid sufficient attention to the new issue 
that had been raised to make it clear that Masonic circles 
were greatly disturbed.* To Harris, this last assault upon 
the good name of Masonry was a most unreasonable per- 
formance ; yet all he felt prepared to do was to enter a gen- 
eral denial, couched in a bombastic, windy style of utter- 
ance, of which the following is typical : 

How much . . . are we surprised to find opposers to an as- 
sociation whose law is peace, and whose whole disposition is 
love; which is known to discourage by an express prohibition 
the introduction and discussion of political or religious topics 

1 Bentley, op. cit, p. 16. 

2 Ibid., pp. 22 et seq. 

^ Ibid., p. 31. Bentley rarely, if ever, made as generous a reference 
to Morse from this time on. His resentment toward the chief calum- 
niator of Masonry, as Morse came to be regarded, grew apace. 

* Discourses, delivered on Public Occasions, Illustrating the Prin- 
ciples, Displaying the Tendency, and Vindicating the Design of Free- 
masonry. By Thaddeus Mason Harris. . . . Charlestown, Anno Lucis, 


in its assemblies; and which forbids in the most positive and 
solemn manner all plots, conspiracies, and rebellions. But,, 
notwithstanding the ignorant mistake, and the prejudiced cen- 
sure the society, we are persuaded that its real character is too 
well known, and its credit is too well supported, to be injured 
by their misrepresentations, or destroyed by their invectives. 
When they charge us with demoralizing principles, we will 
tell them that some of the most orthodox and respectable 
Clergymen are of our order ; and when they impute to us dis- 
organizing atternpts, we will remind them that Washington is 
our patron and friend.^ 

Much more of like character issued from this source.^ We 
shall see, however, that the keen invective and unrestrained 
sarcasm of Bentley, rather than the platitudes of the ami- 
able Harris, were needed to put Masonry's case before the 
public in an effective manner. 

On the same occasion that the "Author of the Worcester 
Charge " ^ made his first formal answer to Robison and 
Morse, at least two other addresses were delivered, each of 
which require a word. One of these, mirabile dictu! was by 
Jedediah Morse.* Morse's " sermon " was dull and insipid 
enough. There was much talk about the cultivation and 
diffusion of the love of country, the duty of essaying the 
role of the peacemaker, and the wickedness of spreading 
base slanders and exciting unreasonable prejudices among 
one's fellows ; but no discussion of the subject of Illuminism 

^ Harris, op. cit., pp. 51 et seq. 

^ Ibid., Discourses ii, vii, viii, and x, particularly. 

' This became one of the terms by which Bentley was alluded to. 

* A Sermon delivered before the Grand Lodge of Free and Ac- 
cepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at a Public 
Installation of OMcers of Corinthian Lodge, at Concord, . . . June 25, 
1798. By Jedediah Morse, D. D., minister of the congregation in 
Charlestown (n. d.). 


was attempted. All that was said was in entire good spirit, 
and but one consideration entitles Morse's performance to 
mention : the fact that its setting as well as its substance 
gave evidence of its author's earnest desire not to see the 
gulf widen between him and his Masonic neighbors. 

The other address was different. Masonic Brother 
Charles Jackson, addressing the members and friends of 
St. Peter's Lodge, Newburyport, Massachusetts, showed no 
disposition to mince words with respect to the detractors of 
Freemasonry.^ Robison was reprobated by him for launch- 
ing " illiberal sarcasms " against the fraternity,^ and par- 
ticularly for making out the Masonic lodges to be " hot- 
beds of sedition and impiety," which the orator indignantly 
averred they were not." It was granted that certain profli- 
gate and abandoned characters, as Robison claimed, had 
assumed the cloak of Masonry, with a view of shrouding 
their infernal plans under pretences of philanthropy and 
benevolence; but these men soon threw off this cloak, and 
there was no reason why Masonry should be sacrificed 
on their account* The charges of atheism and un- 
patriotic spirit among the members of the fraternity were 
repelled with equal warmth by Jackson. As with Harris, 
these calumnies were countered, the charge of atheism by the 
fact that many of the clergy were members of the order, 
and the charge of unpatriotic spirit by the fact that Wash- 
ington was the " illustrious brother " of American Masons.' 

'^ An Oration, delivered before the Right Worshipful Master and 
Brethren of St. Peter's Lodge, at the Episcopal Church in Newbury- 
port, Massachusetts, on the festival of St. John the Baptist; celebrated 
June 25, 579S. By Worshipful Brother Charles Jackson, P. M., New- 
buryport, March, A. L. 5799. 

''Ibid., p. 18. 

3 Ibid., p. 17- 

* Ibid., pp. 19 et seq. 

5 Ibid., p. 23. 


To a very limited extent the press was resorted to, in 
order that New England Masonry might have a chance to 
square itself before the public. The call for specific evi- 
dence that was made upon Morse, as voiced in the Massa- 
chusetts Mercury of July 27, 1798, and Morse's prolix but 
ineffective effort to meet the situation this created, have 
already been noticed.^ In the course of the newspaper dis- 
cussion referred to, the name of another prominent Mason 
of Massachusetts, the Reverend Josiah Bartlett, was drawn 
into the controversy.^ To Morse's somewhat unmanly 
plaint that " by necessary implication " he had been accused 
by the Massachusetts Masons before the President as being 
under the influence of unfounded prejudices, Bartlett made 
the conciliatory, though artful, response that the address of 
the Grand Lodge, to which Morse referred, was designed 
merely as a manly avowal of the true principles of Free- 
masonry. It was not necessary to believe, he continued, 
that they were influenced by irritation or resentment in 
making the Address, nor that Dr. Morse had hostile designs 
in the delivery and publication of his fast sermon.* 

Such language, however, was much too mild and unduly 
exonerative for the " Author of the Worcester Charge." 
His aroused spirit required that censure should be imposed. 
Morse had been guilty of a base injustice; it was right that 
this fact should frankly be published to the world. Accord- 
ingly, the Massachusetts Mercury of August 10, 1798, con- 
tained a vigorous statement of the case of Masonry against 
Morse, from Bentley's pen. The following will suffice to 
indicate the author's spirit : 

^ Cf. supra, pp. 254 et seq. 

2 Massachusetts Mercury, Aug. 7, 1798. Bartlett was Grand Master 
of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. 

3 lUd. 


The notice taken of the American Geographer in the late 
Charge,^ was on account of his zeal, in his public character, 
to give authority to a wicked and mischievous Book. That he 
did not understand the Charge he has proved in his attempt to 
apply it, and that he should not understand it, is easy to be 
conceived from the Strictures already published upon his Com- 
pilations, and from opinions of him, both at home and abroad., 
On a proper occasion, these opinions may be collected and 

Still refusing to depart from the pathway of amiability 
and clerical courtesy, Bartlett returned to the discussion of 
the subject of Illuminism in its relation to American Free- 
masonry, in the Mercury of September 7, 1798. In cum- 
brous sentences the appearance of Robison's book in this 
country was reviewed ; the best of motives were imputed to 
its author and his supporters in America; but stress, very 
gentle stress, to be sure, was laid upon the question whether 
the Illuminati, in any form or other, had branches in this 
country. " If," Bartlett urged, " there is any citizen in the 
United States who can prove this, it is a duty which he 
really owes to God and his country, to come forward, ' as 
a faithful watchman,' with his documents." As for him- 
self, he was fully persuaded that if the Masonic institution 
could be implicated fairly in the conspiracy, then the doors 
of every lodge ought to be flung wide open, and Masonry 
henceforth held in just derision and contempt.* 

' In his address before the Worcester Lodge, June 25, Bentley had 
gone so far as to designate Morse " a madman " for accepting Robi- 
son's book at its face value. This led to a retort in kind on the part 
of Morse. Bentley, according to Morse, was incapable of making him- 
self understood ; one must always have a commentator in reading him. 
Massachusetts Mercury, Aug. 3, i798- 

2 Ibid., Aug. 10, 1798. 

3 Ibid., Sept. 7, 1798- 


This seemed to open the way for such a polite and harm- 
less handling of the subject as Morse coveted. In like spirit 
he replied to the foregoing/ He rejoiced in the candid 
utterances of his worthy friend. Bartlett's acceptance of 
the existence of the Illuminati persuaded him to hope that 
opposition to Robison would now soon cease. Had the 
latter's work not been opposed in the first place, he enter- 
tained no doubt that Freemasonry in the United States 
would not have been injured. While disclaiming all inten- 
tion of pursuing a controversial course, he would, however, 
undertake an investigation to determine whether or not 
there were societies of the Illuminati in this country." 

A belated promise, to say the least, and one that found a 
certain belated fulfilment in Morse's fast sermon of the 
following spring.* Before turning to consider the effect of 
that sermon on Masonic thought, one other Masonic dis- 
claimer of 1798 requires attention. 

On October 23, the Grand Lodge of Vermont drew up an 
address to the President somewhat similar to the one which 
earlier in the year their Massachusetts brethren had pre- 
sented.* Beginning with the familiar observation that Ma- 
sonic principles forbade the introduction of political sub- 
jects into the discussions of the order, but that the serious 
cast of national affairs was such as to justify the present 
action, the address proceeded to notice the " slanders " that 
were in crculation respecting the order and to profess the 
ardent attachment of Vermont Masons to the cause of the 
government. The idea that Masons were capable of fac- 

^ Massachusetts Mercury, Sept. 18, 1798. 

2 Ibid. 

' The Masons appear to have paid little if any attention to the thanks- 
giving sermon of November 29, 1798. There was little reason why 
they should. 

* See Salem Gazette, Dec. 25, 1798. 


tion was repudiated with energy. An individual Mason 
here and there might possibly sell his birthright for a mess 
of pottage, or betray his country for paltry pelf; but as a 
body the Masonic fraternity stood committed to support the 
government. All should be risked in its maintenance and 

The language of the address could hardly have been 
wanner. On the other hand, the President's response was 
cold, or, if not that, at least puzzling.^ Asserting first that 
he had ever esteemed the societies of Freemasons in this 
country as not only innocent of base designs but actually 
useful, he seemed to dispel all the comfort which the read- 
ing of that assurance was calculated to impart by adding 
the following: 

The principle, not to introduce politics in your private assem- 
blies, and the other principle, to be willing subjects to the 
government, would, if observed, preserve such societies from 
suspicion. But it seems to be agreed, that the society of Ma- 
sons have discovered a science of government, or art of ruling 
society, peculiar to themselves, and unknown to all the other 
legislators and philosophers of the world ; I mean not only the 
skill to know each other by marks or signs that no other per- 
sons can divine, but the wonderful power of enabling and 
compelling all men, and I suppose all women, at all hours, to 
keep a secret. If this art can be applied, to set aside the ordi- 
nary maxims of society, and introduce politics and disobedience 
to government, and still keep the secret, it must be obvious that 
such science and such societies may be perverted to all the ill 
purposes which have been suspected. The characters which 
compose the lodges in America are such as forbid every ap- 
prehension from them, and they will best know whether any 
dangers are possible in other countries as well as in this. . . . 
I say cordially with you — let not the tongue of slander say, 

1 Salem Gazette, Dec. 25, 1798. 

2 Ibid. 


that Masons in America are capable of faction. I am very 
confident it can not be said by any one with truth of the Ma- 
sons of Vermont.^ 

Was the President ironical or frank? He had intimated 
that the Masons were capable of corruption : did he, or did 
he not think they were guiltless of the charge of conspiracy 
that had recently been lodged against them ? One could not 
be absolutely sure from what he had written. What the 
Masons of Vermont may have felt when the ambiguous 
response of the President was before them, we have no 
means of knowing ; but there was one Mason in Massachu- 
setts who read the response of the President to the address 
of the Vermont Masons, and who was displeased. In the 
view of William Bentley, the President had done anything 
but assist the cause of Masonry in the hour of its embarrass- 
ment. He has left us the record of his impressions in the 
following form : 

The address to General Washington,' as brother, must have 
the best effect, because he gives his own testimony, that he is 
a stranger to any ill designs of our institution.' But the re- 
plies of President Adams, such as he was indeed obliged to 
offer, have only left us where he found us, if in so happy a 
condition. His answers are candid, buit he could know noth- 
ing. His answer to Massachusetts Grand Lodge insinuates 
his hopes. To Maryland, he seems to express even his fears. 
To Vermont, he says, he believes the institution has been use- 

1 Salem Gazette, Dec. 25, 1798. 

2 Hayden, Washington and His Masonic Compeers, p. 176. 
5 Ibid., pp. 176 et seq. 

*The address of the Maryland Grand Lodge was presented early in 
June, 1798. The President's response followed in due course. Both 
documents were freely copied in the newspapers of the day, the New 
England papers not excepted. Cf. for. example, the Salem Gazette, 
Aug. 10, 1798. 


ful. But while he expressed a confidence in the American 
lodges, he consents to hold our lodges capable of corruption. 
His words are, " Masons will best know whether any dangers 
are possible in other countries, as well as in this." ^ 

We have seen that the most appreciable and positive of 
all the evidence that the champions of the charge of Illu- 
minism brought against the Masons was that which Morse 
embodied in his fast sermon in the spring of 1799. For 
once the tiresome reiterations of the theorist and the re- 
porter of other men's suspicions were laid aside. For once 
a straight thrust was made at a definite point in the armor 
of American Masonry. The effect which Morse's sermon 
produced on the minds of New England Masons naturally 
stimulates inquiry. 

Contrary to what might very properly be supposed, the 
literature of contemporary New England Freemasonry fails 
to yield full and convincing evidence as to the precise char- 
acter of this reaction. A few formal public statements 
were made on the part of representatives of the craft, or in 
one or two instances by men who were sufficiently close to 
the institution to be used on occasions when Masonry threw 
wide its doors of seclusion that the profane might draw 
near. Some of these must be noticed. 

1 An Address, delivered in Essex Lodge, Massachusetts, Dec. 27, 
5798 {1798), on the festival of St. John the Evangelist, at the induction 
of oMcers. By William Bentley. Essex Lodge was located at iSalem, 
Bentleys home. The address may be found in the Freemason's Maga- 
zine, February, 1812, pp. 333 et seq. Bentley's further reflections upon 
President Adams's unsatisfactory response to the Vermont Grand 
Lodge led him to make even more pointed observations. Under date 
of Feb. 4, 1799, he wrote in his diary : " My address to Essex Lodge 
out of press. Pres. A. talks like a boy about the danger of the in- 
stitution. Men of sense who ridicule or oppose the Institution are 
surprised at his simplicity. If he affects to be afraid, he loosens by 
the pretence because indifferent persons consider it as a weakness & his 
judgment suffers, so that he gets neither aid nor confidence." (Diary, 
vol. ii, p. 296.) 


Far removed from the chief centers of the agitation, at 
Portland, Maine, Masonic Brother Amos Stoddard ad- 
dressed the craft, on the occasion of the festival of St. John 
the Baptist, June 24, 1799/ Stoddard did not balk at the 
admission that the fraternity " have, unfortunately, toler- 
ated the lUuminati." ^ But there was this to be said by way 
of exculpation : the Illuminati were not legitimate Masons.* 
" To propagate their revolutionary poison, and to protract 
the period of detection " {sic), they attached themselves to 
Freemasonry and called themselves by its name. In this 
way the world had been deceived. But the main citadel of 
Masonry had not capitulated; only a section of the frater- 
nity had been taken by treachery.* A temporary wound, 
undeniably, had been inflicted; but no lasting hurt would 
come to the craft." 

At Reading, Massachusetts, on the same occasion, Caleb 
Prentiss, a non-Mason, told the members and friends of Mt. 
Moriah Lodge that the lodges were under suspicion as they 
had never been before." The eyes of the world were now 
turned upon Masonry. The suspicion that nefarious con- 
spiracies had been formed or countenanced within the lodges 
was well fixed in the public mind. Masons would need to 
walk with more than ordinary circumspection. They must 

1 An Oration, delivered in the Meeting house of the First Parish 
in Portland, Monday, June 24th, 5799 . . . in celebration of the anni- 
versary festival of St. John the Baptist. By Brother Amos Stoddard 
. . . Portland, 1799. 

" Ibid., p. 9- 

3 Ibid., p. 10. 

* Ibid. 

= Ibid. 

^A Sermon delivered before Mount Moriah Lodge: at Reading 
in the County of Middlesex; at the celebration of St. John: June 34th, 
A. D. 17pp. By Caleb Prentiss, A. M., pastor of the First Parish in said 
town . . . Leominster (Mass.) . . . Anno Lucis, 5799. 


sedulously keep themselves spotless from the imputation of 
such designs, that the craft be not blamed. By striving to 
show themselves to be lovers of God and mankind, friends 
of religion, friends of their country, and firm and steady 
supporters of the latter's civil constitution, government, and 
laws, they would be able to vindicate the principles, prof es- ■ 
sions, and constitutions of true ancient Masonry/ 

At Ashby, New Hampshire, on the same festival day, 
an assembly of Masons and their friends listened to a 
discourse which by way of concessions to the opponents 
of Masonry outstripped anything that went before or fol- 
lowed after.^ The Reverend Seth Payson, that fatuous 
aspirant to literary fame who elected to be a tardy echo 
of the speculations of Robison, Barruel, and Morse,* in- 
formed his auditors that while Masonry in its essential 
principles and constitution had shown itself to be useful to 
society, unhappily its name, veil of secrecy, s)Tnbols, and 
associative principles had been seized by a body of men in 
Europe, in order to mask their hellish purposes of eradicat- 
ing from the human mind " all belief of a God, of a gov- 
erning providence, of the immortality of the soul, and a 
future state, — to extinguish every principle of natural and 
revealed religion and moral sentiments, and to demolish 
every government but its own." * In all its horrid appen- 
dages, the French Revolution was the result of this con- 
spiracy. This " vine of Sodom " was transplanted to the 
United States : witness the opposition which in this country 
developed against those " eminent benefactors to mankind 

1 Prentiss, op. cit., pp. 12, 13. 

"A Sermon, at the Consecration of the Social Lodge in Ashby, 
and the Installation of its Oifkers, June 24, A. D. 1799. By Seth Paysoo, 
A. M., pastor of the church in Rindge, Amherst, N. H., 1800. 

3 Cf. supra, p. 321. 

* Payson's Sermon, p. 8. 


in general," Drs. Robison, Morse, et al.^ Without the faith- 
ful researches of Morse, in particular, a very much more 
serious infection of the Masonic body assuredly would have 

Such isolated and generally indfefinite utterances, it may 
be urged, are scarcely to be trusted as offering an accurate 
reflection of the state of the Masonic mind. They do not, 
however, stand altogether alone. From various and per- 
haps more solid sources, the evidence is forthcoming that 
the year 1799 was a year of deep anxiety and concern on the 
part of the Masons of New England. 

The diary of William Bentley supplies some evidence to 
this effect.' His disgust was great that the clergy continued 
to agitate concerning the pernicious principles and influence 
of Weishaupt, and that with equal pertinacity the press 
kept the affairs of that individual and his minions before the 
public* The equally candid acknowledgments of other 
Masons are even more to the point. One spokesman for 
Rhode Island Masonry made public admission that the fra- 
ternity was suffering keenly from " a temporary odium." ' 
Another in Massachusetts uttered the complaint that the 
industrious zeal of the unprincipled defamer had involved 
the craft in most serious embarrassment.* Some were 

■■ Payson's Sermon, p. 9. 


3 Bentley, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 316. 


° The Secrets of Masonry Illustrated and Explained; in a Dis- 
course, preached at South^Kingston, before the Grand Lodge of the 
State of Rhode-Island, etc., September 3d, A. L. 5799. By Abraham 
L. Clark, A. M., rector of St. John's Church, Providence. Providence, 
1799, p. 13. 

« An Address, delivered December j8, 1799. Before the Brethren 
of Montgomery Lodge; at their Masonic Hall in Franklin. . . By 
Brother James Mann, P. M. Wrentham, 1800, p. 16. 


driven to take refuge in the consolation that the lodges of 
the Illuminati were bastard organizations, and therefore 
Freemasonry could not justly be anathematized on their 

When the skies had cleared, as we have seen they soon 
did, and Masons began to take stock of the experience 
through which their institution had passed, their admissions 
of what the agitation had cost the order were even more 
significant. One confessed that Masonry had started back 
affrighted at the hideous spectre of Illuminism, and that the 
joy that filled the lodges because they were no longer sus- 
pected as " hot-beds of sedition " and " nurseries of infidel- 
ity " was very great.^ Another likewise rejoiced in spirit 
that the dark period of suspicion and calumny through 
which the order has been passing was now over, and that 
political agitation against the institution was at an end.' 
Another admitted that after the lapse of a half dozen years 
it was difficult to plant a new lodge in one of the most cul- 
tured of New England's communities, on account of the 
influence exerted by the works of Robison and Barruel.* 

^ Masonry in Its Glory: or Solomon's Temple Illuminated. By 
David Austin, Jun. : Citizen of the World. East^Windsor, Connecticut, 
i8c», p. 32. Cf. An Oration, pronounced at Walpole, Newhampshire 
[sic] before the Jerusalem, Golden Rule and Olive Branch Lodges of 
Free and Accepted Masons, at their celebration of the festival of St. 
John the Baptist, June Z4th, A. L. 5800. By Brother Martin Field, 
A. B. Putney, October, 1800. 

^An Oration pronounced before the Right Worshipful Master 
& Brethren of St. Peter's Lodge, at the Episcopal Church in Newbury- 
port, on the festival of St. John the Baptist, June 24th, 5802. By 
Brother Michael Hodge, Jun. P. M. Newburyport, . . . 5802, p. 12. 

^ An Address, delivered before the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 
on the festival of St. John the Evangelist, Dec. zyth, A. L. 5805. . . 
By Henry Maurice Lisle, P. M. R. A. C. and Master of Union Lodge, 
Dorchester. Boston, 1805, pp. 14 et seq. 

* Bentley, Diary, vol. iii, p. 228. 


Still another confessed that the Illuminati controversy had 
cost the fraternity dearly in the matter of membership; a 
serious defection had resulted, representing many deser- 

The various causes that contributed to bring about a col- 
lapse of the agitation over Illuminism have elsewhere re- 
ceived attention and for the most part require no special 
comment in this connection. One of these, however, was 
of such a nature that it has been reserved for brief exposi- 
tion at this point. 

1 An Address, delivered at the Grand Convention of the Free 
Masons of the State of Maryland; held on the loth May, 1802, — in 
which the observance of secrecy is vindicated, and the principal ob- 
jections of Professor Robison against the institution, are candidly 
considered. By John Crawford, M. D., Grand Master. Baltimore, 1802, 
pp. 5, 8, 9, 30. — In this connection, the following table showing the 
numerical increase of certain Massachusetts lodges during the period 
I794-1802, compiled from the records of these lodges as contained in 
their published histories, will be of interest. In three instances, viz., 
St. John's, Corinthian and Columbian, both those who received mem- 
bership and those who took degrees are included. 

2794 1795 1796 1797 1798 1799 1800 1801 1802 

St John's, Boston . . . 







14 14 

Tyrian, Gloucester . . . 








3 2 

Essex, Salem . . . . 








8 8 

Washington, Roxbury 

(constituted in 1796) . 





6 5 

King Solomon's, 









4 I 

Corinthian, Concord 

(constituted in 1797)- 





16 16 

Columbian, Boston 

(constituted in 1795). 







52 21 

St. Andrews, Royal 

Arch, Boston . . . . 








3 5 



SSt 74t 





106 72 

* Only one new member admitted after May. 
t Only one new member admitted after Sept. 3. 
t Incomplete. 


The death of Washington, while confessedly an event of 
national significance, and, as such, shared as the common 
bereavement of all the citizens of the country, nevertheless 
assumed a very special importance in the eyes of Masons 
and exerted an immediate and weighty influence upon the 
fortunes of the order. 

One who turns the pages of the black-bordered news- 
papers of the day, all sharing in the universal lamentation 
and doing their utmost to set before their readers the last 
detail regarding the closing hours in the great man's life 
and the arrangement and disposition of affairs in connection 
with his obsequies, is likely to find himself amazed because 
the Masons found it possible to figure in the circumstances 
as conspicuously and largely as they did. The Masons 
were in evidence, in very conspicuous evidence, it must be 
said, in all that pertained to the funeral rites 'of the nation's 
first chief. Not only was this true of the funeral cere- 
monies proper; in innumerable places where mourning as- 
semblies gathered to pay respect to the memory of Wash- 
ington, Masons claimed and were accorded the places of 
honor in the processions and concourses that marked these 
outpourings of popular sorrow. 

It cannot be doubted that American Freemasons, while 
sincere in their expressions of sorrow on account of Wash- 
ington's death, none the less found a peculiar comfort of 
soul in being able at such a time to point to the fallen hero 
as their " brother." At an hour when the tongue of scandal 
and the finger of suspicion were still active they esteemed 
it an opportunity not to be despised to be able to stand be- 
fore the country and proudly say, "Washington was of us." 

That this is not idle fancy the following utterances will 
help to make clear. At Middletown, Connecticut, a few 
days after Washington's death, a Masonic oration was pro- 
nounced in connection with the observance of the festival 


of St. John the Evangelist/ The orator, who recognized 
the season as one of unremitting calumny of Freemasonry,^ 
sought refuge from the strife of tongues for himself and 
his brethren by urging the following sentiment : 

If what Barruel has suggested of our institution is true; if it 
is among US that Jesus Christ is daily sacrificed, and all re- 
ligion scoffed at; if our principles and doctrines, either in 
theory or practice, have a tendency to destroy the bonds of 
nature and of government; how could Washington, that Per- 
fect Man, when his feet were stumbling upon the dark moun- 
tains of death, say, " I am ready to die," until he had warned 
the world to beware of the Masonic institution and its con- 
sequences? He was a thorough investigator, and a faithful 
follower of our doctrines.^ 

^ A Masonic Oration, pronounced on the festival of St. John the 
Evangelist, December 26, 1799. . . . In Middletown. By Alexander 
Collins, Esq. Middletown, 1800. 

2 Ibid., p. S- 

'Ibid., p. 15. An interesting episode in Washington's Masonic career 
may here be alluded to. In the summer of 1798, the Reverend G. W. 
Snyder, a Lutheran clergyman of Frederickstown, Md., wrote Wash- 
ington, expressing his fear that Illuminism might possibly gain an 
entrance into the American lodges and appealing to Washington 
to exert himself to prevent such an unhappy consummation. Snyder 
accompanied his letter with a copy of Robison's Proofs of a Con- 
spiracy. Washington replied to Snyder's letter to the effect that he 
had heard much about " the nefarious and dangerous plan and doc- 
trines of the Illuminati," but that he did not believe the lodges of 
this country had become contaminated thereby. Later Snyder again 
addressed Washington on the subject, expressing surprise that the 
latter was doubtful concerning the spread of the doctrines of Illuminism 
in this country. To this Washington made answer that he had not 
intended to impart the impression by his former letter " that the doc- 
trines of the Illuminati and the principles of Jacobinism had not spread 
in the United States." On the contrary, he professed himself fully 
satisfied on that point. But what he had meant to say formerly was 
this : he " did not believe that the lodges of freemasons in this country 
had, as societies, endeavoured to propagate the diabolical tenets of the 


To this must be added the somewhat different apologetic 
of a prominent Massachusetts Mason. Speaking at Dor- 
chester, at a Masonic service in Washington's memory, the 
Reverend Thaddeus Mason Harris acknowledged the value 
of Washington's connection with American Freemasonry in 
these words : 

The honor thus conferred upon us has been peculiarly service- 
able at the present day, when the most unfounded prejudices 
have been harbored against Freemasonary, and the most ca- 
lumnious impeachments brought forward to destroy it. But 

former, or pernicious principles of the latter.'' {Cf. Sparks, The 
Writings of Washington, vol. xi, pp. 314 et seq., Z77- Cf. Hayden, 
Washington and His Masonic Compeers, pp. 177-189.) A recent study 
of this correspondence has appeared. Cf. Sachse, Washington's Masonic 
Correspondence, Philadelphia, 1915, pp. 1 17-139. The author manifests 
undue eagerness to acquit Washington of serious interest in the con- 
troversy over the Illuminati. His unnecessary emphasis upon Snyder's 
private character, his remark that " Brother Washington evidently 
surmised that this letter from iSnyder was nothing more or less than a 
scheme to entrap him " {Ibid., p. 124) , and his characterization of 
Washington's second letter to Snyder as " sharp," all strongly imply 
that Sachse failed to view the episode in its true setting. That Wash- 
ington had a genuine interest in the controversy over the Illuminati 
the following letter gives added proof: 

" Mount Vernon, 28th Feb?, 1799. 
Rev. Sir, 

The letter with which you were pleased to favor me, dated the first 
instant, accompanying your thanksgiving sermon, came duly to hand. 
For the latter I pray you to accept my thanks. — I have read it, and 
the Appendix with pleasure, and wish the latter, at least, could meet 
a more general circulation than it probably will have, for it contains 
important information, as little known, out of a small circle as the 
dissemination of it would be useful, if spread through the community. 

With great respect, 
I am, — ^Revd. Sir, 
The Revd. M"". Morse Your most Obdt. Servant, 

Washington Collection, New York Go. Washington." 

Public Library. Washington's copy of Morse's sermon 
may be found in the Athenaeum, Boston. 


our opposers blushed for the censures when we reminded them 
that Washington loved and patronized the institution.^ 

Washington's Masonic career, Masonry's uncontested 
claim to the right to be first among those who mourned at 
his burial, — these constituted a part, and a very substantial 
part of the demurrer which Freemasonry offered at the bar 
of public judgment in answer to its accusers. It is very 
certain that after the reinstatement in public favor which 
American Masonry was accorded when Washington was 
buried, the voice of censure was less and less disposed to be 

Note. — The fiction of an alliance between American Freemasonry and 
the lUuminati had a curious revival in connection vifith the antimasonic 
excitement which swept the United States from 1826 to about 1832. 
The mysterious abduction of William Morgan had the effect of arous- 
ing the country to the peril of secret societies, the Masons particu- 
larly. The Antimasonic party for this and other reasons sprang into 
existence, and an elaborate political propaganda and program were 
attempted. See McCarthy, iQiarles, The Antimasonic Party: a Study 
of Political Antimasonry in the United States, 1827-1840. In Annual 
Report of the American Historical Association, 1902, vol. i, pp. 365- 
574- In connection with the Antimasonic conventions that were 
held in various states, efforts were made to establish a cotmection be- 
tween American Masonry and lUuminism. Thus, in the state con- 
vention held in Massachusetts in 1828-1829, a committee was appointed 
" to inquire how far Freemasonry and French Illuminism are con- 

' The Fraternal Tribute of Respect Paid to the Masonic Character 
of Washington, in the Union League, in Dorchester, January 7th., A. L. 
5800. Charlestown, 1800, p. 11. (The address appeared anonymously.) 

* Charlestown Masons went so far as to hold out the olive branch 
of peace and) good-will to Morse, in connection with the Masonic 
mourning which followed Washington's death. It is recorded that the 
lodge in Charlestown presented to Morse the cloth which for a time 
hung under the portrait of its " beloved Brother, George Washington." 
The gift was gratefully accepted by Morse and was made into a coat 
which he afterwards wore. Cf. By-Laws of King Solomon's Lodge, 
Charlestown, etc. Boston, 1885, p. 83. 


nected." This committee brought in a report establishing to the 
satisfaction of the convention that there was a direct connection be- 
tween the two systems, and resulting in the passing of the following 
resolution : " Resolved, on the report of the Committee appointed to 
inquire how far Free Masonry and French Illuminism are connected, 
That there is evidence of an intimate connexion between the higher 
orders of Free Masonry and French Illuminism.'' Cf. An Abstract 
of the Proceedings of the Anti-Masonic State Convention of Massa- 
chusetts, held in Faneuil Hall, Boston, Dec. 30 and 31, 1829, and Jan. i, 
1830. Boston, 1830, p. 5. On the ground that the length of the commit- 
tee's report made it inadvisable, the pubUshing committee deemed it 
inexpedient to print the " evidence." 

The Vermont Antimasonic state convention of 1830 wrestled with 
the same question. Its committee brought in a report so naively sug- 
gestive as to merit notice. Citing the agitation that arose on account 
of the literary efforts of " Robison and Barruel in Europe, and Morse, 
Payson, and others in America," the committee expressed its judgment 
that those works "' called Masonry in question in a manner which 
if assumed' on any other topic, would have called forth disquisition 
and remark on the subject matter of these writings from every editor 
in the union; yet the spirit of inquiry, which these able performances 
were calculated to raise, was soon and unaccountably quelled — the press 
was mute as the voice of the strangled sentinel and the mass of the 
people kept in ignorance that an alarm on the subject of Masonry had 
ever been sounded, or even that these works had ever existed." See 
Proceedings of the Anti-Masonic State Convention, holden at Mont- 
pelier, June 23, 24, & 25, 1830. Reports and Addresses. Middlebury, 

An exploration of the literature of the Antimasonic party yields 
nothing more significant. This literature as listed by McCarthy may 
be found on pp. 560-574 of the Report of the American Historical 
Association for 1902, vol i. 


By 1798 and 1799 the alignment of political parties in 
New England had arrived at such a stage that the suspicion 
of political jockeying to obtain party advantage was well 
grounded in the minds of leaders in both camps. This self- 
conscious and determined party spirit had been greatly 


promoted by the emplo)mient of electioneering methods/ 
The general public had not yet become accustomed to the 
precise significance of the broadside, the political pamphlet, 
and the newspaper canard; and these all, in a copious 
stream, had begun to flow from the country's presses. Party 
leaders, however, who knew the purposes of their own 
minds if not those of the opposition, were quick to scent 
anything that savored of political buncombe. 

Coincident with the breaking out of the controversy over 
the Illuminati, a number of tales of plots or conspiracies 
were foisted upon the public.^ One of these concerned a 
band of conspirators who were alleged to be agents of the 
French Directory, and who, with their secret documents 
concealed in the false bottom of two tubs, had taken ship 
from Hamburg to work sedition in this country.* Another 
concerned the operations of a tailor in the city of Philadel- 
phia, of whom the report spread that he was engaged in 
making immense quantities of uniforms for French sol- 
diers; and if for French soldiers, for whom could they be 
intended but for some French army which must be planning 
an invasion of the United States? A third tale had to do 
with the massacre which, rumor had it, had taken place on 
the good American ship Ocean, involving the brutal butch- 
ery of her entire crew by the French.* 

All these preposterous " plots " were promptly exploded, 
and in due course all were traced to Federalist sources. 

1 Robison, Jeffersonian Democracy in New England, pp. 26 et seq. 
Cf. Bentley, Diary, vol. ii, pp. 289, 346, 421, 429, 458. 

2 The situation is well covered by McMaster, History of the People 
of the United States, vol. ii, pp. 441 et seq. 

' On account of the supposed place of concealment of the imaginary 
papers, this was commonly referred to as the " tub plot." 

• The public report of this story by Morse has already been noted. 
Cf. supra, p. 306. 


The general effect upon the opposition scarcely needs to 
be stated. Such silly tales, said one Democrat, discredit 
everything that the Federalists affirm to be true/ They all 
had been artfully concocted and employed, said another, " to 
excite an indignation which might be played off for the 
purposes of party." ^ They were so many alarm-bells, a 
third said,^ rung, we may add, to frighten the people into 
running to prop up the bowing walls and tottering pillars 
of the doomed temple of Federalism. ' 

This mood of scepticism, imbedded as it was in a more 
serious mood of indignation arising from the rebuffs and 
discomfitures that citizens of democratic tastes and prin- 
ciples had long suffered at the hands of Federalist bigotry 
and intolerance, rendered it inevitable that the charge of 
Illuminism should be suspect from the first. One has but 
to recall that the year in which the controversy over the 

1 Independent Chronicle, April 18, 1798. Cf. Constitutional Tele- 
graph (Boston), Oct. 2, 1799. 

2 To the Freemen of Rhode-Island, etc., p. 4. This pamphlet was 
issued anonymously and without date. Its author was Jonathan Russell, 
and the date of its publication fell within the period of the Adams- 
Jefferson contest for the presidency, i. e., 1800-1801. The passage from 
which the quotation is taken is marked by not a little dignity and 
comprehension. " The people have been continually agitated by false 
alarms, and without even the apparition of a foe. They have been 
made to believe that their government and their religion were upon the 
eve of annihilation. The ridiculous fabrications of plots, which have 
been crushed out of being by the weight of their own absurdity; and 
the perpetration of massacres which never existed, but in the dis- 
tempered malevolence which preached them, have been artfully em- 
ployed to excite an indignation which might be played off for the 
purposes of party. Tubs have arrived at iCharlestown. The crews 
of the Ocean and Pickering have been murdered. ... No falsehood 
which depravity could invent, has passed unpropagated by credulity; 
and no innocence which virtue could render respectable and amiable 
has escaped unassailed by federal malignity. Bigotry has cried down 
toleration, and royalism everything Republican." {Ibid.) 

3 Aurora, June 5, 1799. 


Illuminati broke out has still its characterization in political 
annals as " the reign of terror," to appreciate fully the 
statement that has just been made. 

Beginning with 1799 a small group of pamphlets ap- 
peared, dedicated by their authors to an effort to convert 
the charge of Illuminism into a political boomerang, to be 
employed as a weapon against the Federalists. Conspicuous 
among these, and perhaps first in point of time, was A View 
of the New England Illuminati,^ an anonymous composi- 
tion, but one whose authorship was soon traced to the Rev- 
erend John Cosens Ogden,^ an Episcopal clergyman. 

Ogden wielded the pen of a ready and discursive writer, 
the latter more especially. To follow him step by step as 
he ranged from Barruel and Robison to meetings of New 
England ministers, from meetings of New England minis- 
ters to ecclesiastical usurpations, from ecclesiastical usurpa- 
tions to the French Revolution, from the French Revolu- 
tion, to high-handed measures taken by New England college 
presidents, and so on ad infinitum, and the while to take 
equal account of all he touched upon, would be a formidable 
and, we may believe, largely unprofitable exercise. And 
yet, through a good deal of Ogden's pamphlet the spirit of 
ecclesiastical and political dissent finds a certain earnest and 
even vivid expression. 

' The pamphlet's full title follows : A View of the New England 
Illuminati: who are indefatigably engaged in Destroying the Religion 
and Government of the United States; under a feigned regard for their 
safety — atid under an impious abuse of true religion. The pamphlet 
passed through at least two editions. The citations of this study are 
from the second. 

'Ogden (1740-1800) was rector of St. John's Church (formerly 
Queen's Chapel), Portsmouth, N. H., from 1786 to 1793. He was a 
well-meaning but an exceedingly erratic man. Perry, The History 
of the American Episcopal Church, 1587-1883, vol. ii, p, 79. He is 
said to have been the first Episcopal clergyman to be ordained in the 
city of Boston. Cf. ibid., p. 488. His death occurred at Chester- 
town, Md. 


It is true, said Ogden at the outset, that New England 
had its Illuminati. They were not, however, such as Robi- 
son and Barruel would represent them to be. The New 
England societies of the Illuminati were the monthly meet- 
ings of the clergy.^ The work they did and the influence 
they exerted were so like the work and influence of the soci- 
eties of which Robison and Barruel wrote that they de- 
served to be styled the New England Illuminati: readers 
could judge for themselves as to the appositeness of the 
title thus bestowed.^ Their confederacy had been so suc- 
cessful that certain opulent and leading laymen, who 
supremely desired to perpetuate the imion of church and 
state in New England, had lent to these clerical organiza- 
tions their fostering care and support.* At these monthly 
clubs, the political issues of the times were discussed and 
prayers and orations filled with invectives against those who 
had not adopted the creeds and politics of the members were 

That which first gave offence to these clubs was the 
establishment of universal religious toleration in Canada 
and the petition of the Episcopalians inhabiting the colo- 
nies — ^now the United States — ^to their brethren in England, 
that a Protestant bishop might be granted them who would 
live in their midst. ° To defeat these measures, the New 

1 A View of the New England Illuminati, pp. 2, 3. 

'^ Ibid., p. 3. 

3 Ibid. 

* Ibid., p. 5. Ogden's observations in this connection are caustic 
enough. "The people generally attended the public exercises in the 
meeting-houses, but had no share in the deliberations of the ministers. 
Dinners were prepared, by private donations, of the most delicious food 
of the season, which could be procured by the parishioners ; and a day 
of conviviality was thus observed once a month by the clergy, to their 
gratification and the increase of their association." {Ibid.) 

= Ibid., pp. 4 et seq. 


England Illuminati were indefatigably busy; and when 
they discovered that they were foiled in their efforts, they 
languished for a season/ until the French Revolution stirred 
them to new life. 

When the Revolution began in France, these New Eng- 
land Illuminated Clubs redoubled their energies. They 
prayed, they exhorted, they wrote and printed numerous 
dissertations and prophecies, all emphasizing the import of 
the Revolution as signalizing the overthrow 'of the Church 
of Rome, which was Antichrist, and of the Pope, who was 
the Beast of the Apocalypse, preparatory to the fulfilment 
of the eternal decree respecting the Millennium.^ Every- 
thing that the clergy did at this time smacked loudly of their 
excessive interest in French affairs. In order more fully 
to influence public opinion they took the colleges into their 
confederacy, and soon teachers and pupils were busy dis- 
seminating throughout the land principles and prejudices 
favorable to the Revolution in France.' Nothing was 
omitted that might have been done to cement an attachment 
to the cause of the Revolution. 

The fluctuating events of the European wars and the un- 
certain issue of French affairs soon cooled the ardor of 
these clerico-political societies.* For these men were not 
sincere in their devotion to France. They were not genuine 
supporters of the rights of man. They repudiated their 
former interest in French politics and turned fiercely upon 

^ Ogden, op. cit., p. 5. Ogden made a delicate thrust at this point. He 
professed to see an explanation of the prevalence of sceptical and 
deistical notions in New England in the discussions of the dark and 
obscure questions that consumed the attention of the clergy in their 
monthly meetings, before they became interested in the affairs of the 
French Revolution. Cf. ibid. 

^ Ibid., pp. 5 et seq. 

^ Ibid., p. 6. 

* Ibid., p. 7. 


those who maintained their interest in the principles of the 
Revolution. These men had but one interest. What they 
desired was power, a millennium in which the money and 
liberties of all men should be laid at the feet of the colleges 
and of the Illuminati Clubs. ^ 

Such was the general indictment that Ogden drew. This 
attended to, he proceeded to file a bill of particulars. 

The clergy, who constituted the predominating element 
in these New England Illuminati Clubs, from the first had 
occupied a position of commanding influence in New Eng- 
land. But the clergy from, the first had steadily kept the 
people at a distance.'' They courted the rich and schemed 
to obtain political influence. They united to themselves a 
formidable body from among the laity, who looked to them 
for votes and preferments. They freely wielded the weap- 
ons of ecclesiastical censure and discipline in efforts to 
coerce those who would not sell their consciences for gold 
or political honors.^ In the army and the navy their sons 
and favorites received promotion; and in the distribution 
of college diplomas, because of the same influence, men were 
honored who could not construe the Latin parchments they 

Nominations to magistracies had been handed about by 
the arrogant members of these Illuminated Clubs, and good 
men of the opposition had been denounced by them at the 
polls. "* By the same forces the public press had been de- 
prived of its freedom and the channels of public communi- 
cation diverted to serve unworthy ends." Missionaries had 

1 Ogden, op. cit., p. 7. 

2 Ibid., p. 8. 

3 Ibid., pp. 8, 18. 
* Ibid., p. 18. 

= Ibid., p. 9- 
« Ibid. 


been sent to frontier communities in the various states, not 
to propagate religion, but to extend the influence and to in- 
crease the power of the societies whose agents they were/ 
The destruction of dissenting bodies had been aimed at and 
the cause of universal liberty of conscience spurned as an 
odious thing. ^ 

In their efforts to control the instruments of education, 
the representatives of these Illuminated Clubs had mani- 
fested the same illiberal and contracted policy. Public at- 
tention had artfully been withdrawn from the schools of the 
yeomanry and centered upon the colleges which the lUu- 
minati controlled.* Some of these institutions had shown 
themselves subservient in the extreme. The clergy and 
corporation of Yale had been so narrow as to cause phil- 
anthropists to turn the gifts they intended for that institu- 
tion into other channels, to Harvard particularly.* At 
Dartmouth a spirit quite as contemptible had prevailed." 
Fortunately the school at Cambridge had escaped from the 
clutches of these bigoted men. Columbia, too, had recently 
been placed upon a more liberal foundation, but not without 
having incurred the hostility of the Illuminati.* Every- 
where, indeed, that the Edwardean theology was not per- 

^ Ogden, op, cit., pp. 9 et seq. 


3 Ibid., pp. II, 16. 

*Ibid., p. II. President Ehvight is dubbed by Ogden "the head 
of the lUuminati." (Ibid.) " In his sermon preached on the fourth 
of July, 1798, in New-Haven, he has given us a perfect picture of the 
Illuminati of Connecticut, under his control, in the representation he 
has made of the Illuminati of Europe. . . . Birth, education, elevation, 
and connections have placed Doctor Dwight at the head of the Ed- 
wardean sect and Illuminati. . . . Science he forsakes, and her in- 
stitutions he prostrates, to promote party, bigotry, and error." (Ibid.) 

° Ibid., pp. Tl et seq. 

« Ibid., p. 14. 


mitted to flourish unmolested, there the hostility of the New- 
England Illuminati was felt/ Venerable, learned, and ex- 
perienced Catholic, Episcopal, and Baptist clergymen were 
roughly thrust aside at the seats of learning where these 
men had control, and dapper young parsons " with neat 
gowns and bands, and degrees of Doctor of Divinity, bought 
and obtained by the influence of rich merchants " ^ were 
permitted to supersede them. 

There was no place into which the influence of these men 
had gone where contentions and persecutions had not fol- 
lowed/ But few interruptions of the public tranquility had 
occurred that could not be traced directly to their door. 
No hand of sympathy or conciliation had ever been held out 
by them to the opposition.* Should some political despot 
enlist these men under his banner, disaster would overtake 
our religion, government, liberty, and property; anarchy 
and destruction would overspread a land saved by the valor 
of freemen, by the blood of the fathers.^ 

What, therefore, was to be done with such contumacious 
and intolerable men? Ogden's answer sounds surprisingly 
moderate, in view of the extent to which the iron of bitter- 
ness had entered his soul : 

If the New-England Illuminati proceed unheeded and uncon- 
trolled, this nation will constantly experience the pernicious 
effects of discord and popular discontent. Wars at home, 
tumults abroad, the degradation of legislatures, judges and 
jurors, will be our daily portion. ... To dissolve or abolish 
those societies or clubs would not be to infringe upon the 

1 Ogden, op. cit., p. 19. 
^ Ibid., p. 12. 
3 Ibid; p. 19- 
*lbid., p. IS- 
^ Ibid., p. 20. 


rights of conscience: to counteract them is to establish law 
and peace.^ 

Such was Ogden's effort to brand the Standing Order 
of New England with the hateful mark of the Illuminati.' 
His endeavor was supplemented by the oratorical and liter- 
ary effusions of Connecticut's most shrewd and impudent 
Democrat, Abraham Bishop, of New Haven. In the course 
of a year, beginning with September, 1800, Bishop deliv- 
ered, and later expanded and printed, three orations,^ in 
each of which he drew heavily upon his by no means meagre 

1 Ogden, op. cit., pp. 10, 11. 

'Ogden's pamphlet was in high favor with the Democrats from the 
first. The Aurora of Feb. 14, 1800, has the following reference to it:' 
" This book, within a few months, has attained a very rapid and ex- 
tensive circulation, in all parts of the union. It is the ' clue ' to the 
tyrannies at the northward, which have assumed the control of our 
affairs, under the sanction of federalism, or an union of church and 
state, & which has associated in one focus, federalism, religion, war, 
aristocracy, monarchy, and prelacy." Ogden was responsible for two 
other pamphlets, somewhat similar in tone, but less striking. One of 
these bore the title: Friendly Remarks to the Peo.ple of Connecticut, 
upon their College and Schools. It was published anonymously, and 
without indication of date or place of publication. The other bore 
the following title and imprint : A Short History of Late Ecclesiastical 
Oppressions in New-England and Vermont. By a Citizen. In which 
is exhibited a Statement of the Violation of Religious Liberties which 
are ratified by the Constitution of the United States. Richmond, 
1799. Neither of these is worthy of special notice. 

' In the order of their composition and appearance these were : 
(i) Connecticut Republicanism. An Oration on the Extent and Power 
of Political Delusion, delivered in New-Haven, on the evening preceding 
the public commencement, September, 1800. By Abraham Bishop. Phila- 
delphia, 1800; (2) Oration delivered at Wallingford, on the nth of 
March, 1801, before the Republicans of the State of Connecticut, and 
their general thanksgiving for the election of Thomas Jefferson to 
the Presidency and of Aaron Burr to the Vice Presidency of the United 
States of America. By Abraham Bishop. New-Haven, 1801 ; (3) F»-oo/j 
of a Conspiracy, against Christianity, and the Government of the United 
States; exhibited in several views of the union of church and state 
in New-England. By Abraham Bishop. Hartford, 1802. 


resources of logic, wit, irony, and boldness, to arraign 
Connecticut Federalism as a hideous conspiracy against the 
peace of the state and the liberties of the people. 

The first of these orations had something of a history, 
not very extraordinary to be sure, and yet unique enough 
to throw some light upon the mettle of the man and the 
nature of the opposition that inflamed his passion. The 
Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College appointed Bishop 
its orator for the year 1800, in connection with the com- 
mencement exercises of the college, then held in the month 
of September. Exercising the traditional right of selecting 
his own subject, Bishop elected to prepare an oration on 
" The Extent and Power of Political Delusion," instead of 
writing on " broken glass, dried insects, petrifactions, or any 
such literary themes," as he afterwards intimated the Fed- 
eralists doubtless had expected.^ The labor of composition 
completed, Bishop showed his manuscript to the secretary 
of the society, only to be informed later that on account of 
the political character of his effort his appointment as orator 
had been rescinded by the society. Not to be routed by 
any such expert generalship on the part of the enemy, 
Bishop rallied his Democratic friends, procured a hall, and 
on the evening of the Phi Beta Kappa exercises, held forth 
in the presence of an audience of very gratifying propor- 

1 Oration delivered at WalUngford, on the nth of March, 1801, 
p. lOI. 

' Plenty of bad political blood was back of the whole episode. 
Bishop's father, who was charged with holding no less than five 
political offices simultaneously under Jefferson, had recently had his 
responsibilities extended by being appointed Collector of Customs for 
the Port of New Haven. The indignation of the Federalists was un- 
utterable. A wrathy protest was sent to Jefferson, among whose 
specifications was the claim that on account of Bishop Senior's ad- 
vanced age (he was in his seventy-eighth year), the work would fall 
to his son who was a foe to commerce and an enemy to order. Cf. 
McMaster, History of the United States, vol. ii, pp. 585 et seq. In 
these circumstances Abraham Bishop seems to have found an adequate 
casus belli. 


And what had Abraham Bishop to say on " The Extent 
and Power of Political Delusion " which in the view of 
the Phi Beta Kappas amounted to an abuse of " the confi- 
dence of the Society, . . . involving the members in that 
political turmoil which disgraces our country " ? ^ Much in 
every way. He devoted several scores of pages to an expo- 
sition of the delusive arts of the " friends of order," which, 
being interpreted, meant the knavery of the Federalists 
throughout the country in general and in Connecticut in 
particular. The major portion of his " argument " need 
not detain us, since Bishop ran the full gamut of political 
crimination, charging upon the Federalists an amount of 
deception and chicanery truly appalling. One item only is 
of interest to us. Among the endless " delusions " that he 
cited as evidence of the hypocrisy of the Federalists was 
the clergy's habit of waiving the sacerdotal functions, de- 
scending from their high seats made venerable by the re-, 
spect of the people for religion, and imposing upon their 
auditories political sermons based upon texts drawn from 
Robison and Barruel.^ Happily, he continued, the people 
were able to penetrate this strategem, along with the rest. 

Robison and Barruel can deceive us no more. The 17 sophisti- 
cal work-shops of Satan have never been found: not one 
illuminatus major or minor has been discovered in America, 
though their names have been published, and though their 
existence here is as clearly proved as was their existence in 

But Bishop's thought upon the subject of the Illuminati 
had not yet fully ripened.'' The circumstances under which 

' Connecticut Courant, Sept. 15, 1800. 

2 Connecticut Republicanism. An Oration, etc., p. 39. 

' Ibid., p. 43. 

* The reception of Bishop's oration by the Federalists gave strong 


this virgin effort of his was executed added considerably to 
his reputation ; so much so that when at the end of the fol- 
lowing winter the Democrats of Wallingford adopted the 
irreverent suggestion of holding a public thanksgiving to 
celebrate the election of Thomas Jefferson to the presi- 
dency, Bishop was asked to be one of the mouthpieces of 
their joy on that occasion. The ground over which Bishop 
traveled in the Wallingford oration was much the same as 
before. Again the " friends of order " were arraigned for 
their impostures and their oppressions. Such were " blind 
guides," " a generation of vipers," dispensers of hypocrisy 
to children in their cradles, " arch impostors and prime 
movers " of iniquitous works.' They were great sticklers 
for " steady habits " ; but what meant their cry of " steady 
habits " but mortal hostility to republicanism in every 
form ? * 

These self-styled " friends of order," it should not be 
forgotten, were not the people. They were the commercial 
aristocrats who insisted that ours was a blessed govern- 
ment because they were all becoming rich, plus the clergy, 
the bench, the bar, and the office-seeking and office-holding 
class in general.^ They united church and state, made re- 
ligion play a game against civil rights, and strove to make 
the object of the American Revolution appear impossible 
of full realization.* Affecting to respect and serve the 
rights of man, they imposed upon the people the funding 

impulse in that direction. The pamphleteers and newspaper scribblers 
of that political persuasion promptly attacked him. Noah Webster re- 
plied to Bishop in A Rod for the Fool's Back. " Connecticutensis " 
wrote and published Three Letters to Abraham Bishop. Cf. Oration 
delivered at Wallingford, on the nth of March, 1801, pp. 103 et seq. 

1 Ibid., passim. 

2 Ibid., p. 18. 

3 Ibid., pp. 22, 44. 

' Ibid., pp. 26 et seq. 


system, the alien and sedition acts, and the unwarranted en- 
largement of the navy.^ They stirred up the animosity of 
the people against the French, excited the X.Y.Z. mania, 
and scattered over the country the " arabian tales of Robi- 
son and Barruel." " With respect to religion, they had devel- 
oped more hypocrisy in New England than existed in any 
other equal portion of the globe.* They had cried aloud 
that atheism prevailed in New England and infidel books 
were plentiful; but neither atheists nor infidel publications 
were actually to be found, unless in the latter case the writ- 
ings of Robison and Barruel and the sermons preached 
against infidelity were to be called such.* The grave fault 
of the clerical " friends of order " was that they had not 
preached the Gospel. Instead, they had insulted the intel- 
ligence of the people by revamping the fables of a Scotch 
monarchist and a Catholic abbe. They imputed infidelity 
to the Democrats, while they themselves caused infidelity to 
abound. They directed all their darts of " democratic in- 
fidels " and " infidel philosophy " against one man, Thomas 
Jefferson, and in this way caused their enemies to blaspheme 
and say, " Where is your God?" ° 

And so on through a hundred pages less one. In a tirade 
of such interminable length the idea of a Federalist con- 
spiracy against the best interests of the people of New Eng- 
land was worked out in more than ample detail. All that 
was needed was to apply the term " Illuminati," and the 
catalogue of incriminations would be complete. This appli- 
cation Bishop proceeded to make in his third oration, which 
appeared sometime within the year 1802. 

1 Bishop, op. cit., pp. 47 et seq. 

2 Ibid., pp. so. SI- 

3 Ibid., p. 68. 
* Ibid., p. 87. 
^ Ibid., p. 92. 


Bishop's last effort surpassed all that he had previously- 
achieved in the way of boldfaced and reckless assertion. 
Constant reiteration and an awkw^ard effort to fashion his 
composition on the form that Robison and Barruel supplied 
him, gave to the pamphlet abundant suggestions of insin- 
cerity and political rant. The union of church and state in 
New England was presented as a constant, powerful, and 
efficient enemy against Christianity and the government of 
the United States.^ Thus the true Illuminatists were the 
pohtical clergy and the Federalist leaders.^ The charge of 
infidel conspiracy brought against the Democrats a few 
years previous constituted nothing more nor less than a 
specious accusation brought forward " to prostrate the 
public mind." * Robison and Barruel were miserable mix- 
tures of falsehood and folly.* The Federalists were well 
aware of this when they launched their charge of infidel 
philosophy against Thomas Jefferson and the party that 
supported him. The Federalists were simply desperate. 
They were determined to go to any lengths to keep Jeffer- 
son out of the presidency. All their works were saturated 
with sacrilege and impiety. Their public fasts were kept 
for political purposes.^ Their cry, " The church is in dan- 
ger !" was hollow and insincere.® Their praise of the Fed- 
eral administration had no other object than to effect the 
abasement of the Democrats.' Their " Church and State 

^ Proofs of a Conspiracy against Christianity and the Government 
of the United States, preface. 
2/Wrf., pp. 15, 16. 
'Ibid., p. 54. 
* Ibid., pp. 60 et seq. 
^ Ibid., p. 64. 
«/b«rf., p. 59- 
''Ibid., p. 64. 


Union " freely sacrificed the highest interests of religion 
and government to the cause of party/ 

A more extended report of Bishop's waspish and bitter 
harangue would neither strengthen his indictment nor elu- 
cidate his " proofs." His pamphlet has significance only 
as an outburst of triumphant but still indignant New Eng- 
land Democracy as it reflected upon the exasperating ob- 
stacles which the opposition had thrust in its way as it had 
pressed forward to power. Nothing could be clearer than 
that the word " Illuminati " had lost all serious and exact 
significance and had become a term for politicians to con- 
jure with;^ or if not that, to give point to the general 
charge of calloused villainy which Democrats lodged against 
Federalists at the turn of the eighteenth century. 

1 Bishop, op. cit., preface. 

' The practice was not confined to New England. In New York, 
for example, the political enemies of the Clinton family employed 
the term " Illuminati " to embarrass the adherents of that faction. 
A Full Exposition of the CUntonian Faction, and the Society of the 
Columbian Illuminati; with an account of the writer of the narrative, 
and the characters of his certificate men, as also Remarks on Warren's 
Pamphlet. By J[ohn] W[ood]. Newark, 1802. 


In addition to the principal works made use of in this investigation 
and listed below, special bibliographies may be found on pages 75-76, 
dealing with answers to Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, and on pages 
185-186, dealing with the European Illuminati. The sections devoted to 
sermons, orations and addresses, and pamphlets contain only such titles 
as indicate significant sources; titles of less important compositions 
of this character will be found in the text or in the foot notes. 

Manuscript Collections 

Bentley MSS., American Antiquarian Society Collection. 

Ebeling MSS., Harvard University Collection. 

Ford Collection, New York Public Library. 

Pickering Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society Collection. 

Wolcott Papers, Connecticut Historical Society Collection. 


American Mercury, Hartford. 
Aurora General Advertiser, Philadelphia. 
Columbian Centinel, Boston. 
Commercial Advertiser, New York. 
Connecticut Courant, Hartford. 
Connecticut Journal, New Haven. 
Constitutional Telegraph, Boston. 
Independent Chronicle, Boston. 
Massachusetts Mercury, Boston. 
Massachusetts Spy, Worcester. 
Newburyport Herald, Newburyport, Mass. 
Porcupine's Gazette, Philadelphia. 
Russell's Gazette, Boston. 
Salem Gazette, Salem, Mass. 
The Bee, New London, Conn. 
Western Star, Stockbridge, Mass. 

Collected Works 

■ Adams, John, Works . . . with a life of the author, notes and illustrations, 

(ed. by Charles Francis Adams). 10 vols. Boston, 1850-56. 
Ames, Fisher, Works, with a selection from his speeches and cor- 
respondence, (ed. by Seth Ames). 2 vols. Boston, 1854. 
361] 361 


Hamilton, Alexander, Works, (ed. by Henry Cabot Lodge). 9 vols. 

New York and London, 1886-7. 
Jefferson, Thomas, Writings, (col. and ed. by Paul Leicester Ford). 

10 vols. New York and London, 1892-99. 
Paine, Thomas, Writings, (col. and ed. by Moncure Daniel Conway). 

4 vols. New York, 1902-8. 
Washington, George, Writings, (ed. by Jared Sparks). 12 vols. 

Boston, 1837. 

Autobiographies, Biographies, and Diaries 

Beecher, Lyman, Autobiography, Correspondence, etc., (ed. by Charles 

Beecher). 2 vols. New York, 1864-5. 
Bentley, William, Diary. 4 vols. 'Salem, 1905-11. 
Bernard, John, Retrospections of America, 1797-1811. New York, 1887. 
Breck, iSamuel, Recollections, with Passages from his Note-Books, 1771- 

i86s, (ed. by Horace Elisha Scudder). Philadelphia, 1877. 
Channing, William EUery, Memoir, with Extracts from his Correspond- 
ence and Manuscripts. 3 vols. Boston, 1848. 
Christie, Francis A., The Diary of an Old New England Minister. In 

Harvard Theological Review, January, 1916, pp. 84-107. 
Conway, Moncure Daniel, The Life of Thomas Paine. 2 vols. New 

York and London, 1893. 
Dexter, Franklin Bowditch, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates 

of Yale College, with Annals of the College History. 6 vols. New 

York (vol. vi, New Haven), 1885-1912. 
Field, David Dudley, Brief Memoirs of the Members of the Class 

Graduated at Yale College_ in September, 1802. Printed for private 

distribution, 1863. 
Gibbs, George, Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and 

John Adams. 2 vols. New York, 1846. 
Green, Ashbel, Life, (ed. by Joseph J. Jones). New York, 1849. 
Hovey, Alvah, A Memoir of the Life and Times of the Rev. Isaac 

Backus. Boston, 1858. 
Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, 

Federalist. 2 vols. Boston and New York, 1913. 
Morse, Edward Lind, Samuel F. B. Morse: His Letters and Journals. 

Boston and New York, 1914. 
Morse, John Torrey, John Quincy Adams. Boston, 1882. 
Sprague, William Buel, Annals of the American Pulpit. 9 vols. New 

York, 1857-69. 
Sprague, William Buel, The Life of Jedidiah Morse. New York, 1874. 
Stiles, Ezra, Literary Diary, (ed. by Franklin Bowditch Dexter). 3 

vols. New York, 1901. 


Willard, Sidney, Memories of Youth and Manhood. 2 vols. Cam- 
bridge, 1855. 


Brissot de Warville, J. P., New Travels in the United States of America, 

performed in 1788. Second edition, corrected. London, 1794. 
Dwight, Timothy, Travels: In New-England and New-York. 4 vols. 

New-Haven, 1821-2. 
La Rochefoucauld Liancourt, Frangois Alexandre Frederic, due de, 

Travels through the United States of North America, the Country 

of the Iroquois, and Upper Canada, in the Years 1795, 1796, and 

1797. (Tr.) 4 vols. London, 1799. 
Weld, Isaac, Jun., Travels through the States of North America, and 

the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the Years 1795, 

1796, and 1797. London, 1799. 

A. General 

Channing, Edward, A History of the United States. Volumes i-iv pub- 
lished. New York, 1905-17. 

Hildreth, Richard, The History of the United States of America. 6 vols. 
New York, 1856. 

Macdonald, William, Documentary Source Book of American History, 
1608-1898. New York, igo8. 

McMaster, John Bach, A History of the People of the United States. 
8 vols. New York, 1883-1913. 

Palfrey, John G., A Compendious History of New England, etc. 4 vols. 
Boston, 1873. 

B. Special 

Aulard, A., Le culte de la Raison et de 1'S.tre supreme. Paris, 1904. 
Aulard, A., The French Revolution: a Political History, 1789-1804. 

(Tr. from the French). 4 vols. New York, 1910. 
Baldwin, Ebenezer, Annals of Yale College, in New Haven, Connecticut, 

from its foundation, to the year 1831, etc. New Haven, 1S31. 
Bassett, John Spencer, The Federalist System, 1789-1801. New York 

and London, igo6. 
Bishop, James Leander, A History of American Manufactures from 

1608 to i860. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1861-66. 
Byington, Ezra Hoyt, The Puritan in England and New England. 

Boston, 1896. 
Clark, Victor Selden, History of Manufactures in the United States, 

1607-1860. Washington, 1916. 


Duhr, Bernhard, Geschichte der Jesuiten in den Ldndern deutscher 

Zunge im 16. Jahrhundert. Freiburg, 1907. 
Duniway, Clyde Augustus, The Development of Freedom of the Press 

in Massachusetts. New York, 1906. 
Dunlap, William, History of the American Theatre. 2 vols. London, 


Dutton, Samuel W. S., The History of the North Church in New 
Haven. New Haven, 1842. 

Earl, Alice Morse, Stage-Coach and Tavern Days. New York, 1900. 

Engel, iLeopold, Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens. Ein Beitrag zur 
Geschichte Bay ems. Berlin, 1906. 

Fiske, John, A Century of Science and Other Essays. Boston, 1899. 

Forestier, ;R. Le, Les Illumines de Baviere et la Franc-Magonnerie alle- 
mande. Paris, 1915. 

Hatch, Louis Clinton, The Administration of the American Revolu- 
tionary Army. New York, 1904. 

Hazen, Charles Downer, Contemporary American Opinion of the French 
Revolution. Baltimore, 1897. 

Johnson, Allen, Union and Democracy. Boston, New York, and 
Chicago, 1915. 

Johnston, Alexander, American Political History, 1763-1876. 2 vols. 
New York and London, 1905. 

Johnston, Alexander, Connecticut: A Study of a Commonwealth- 
Democracy. Boston and New York, 1891. 

Lipowsky, Felix Joseph, Geschichte der Jesuiten in Baiern. 2 vols. 
Miinchen, 1816. 

Love, William DeLoss, The Colonial History of Hartford, gathered 
from the original records. Hartford, 1914. 

Love, William DeLoss, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New 
England. Boston and New York, 1895. 

Luetscher, George Daniel, Early Political Machinery in the United 
States. Philadelphia, 1903. 

Madden, Richard iRobert, The United Irishmen, Their Lives and Their 
Times. 12 vol's. iNew York, 1910. 

Morse, Anson Ely, The Federalist Party in Massachusetts to the Year 
1800. Princeton, 1909. 

Mounier, Jean-Jacques, De I'infiuence attribuee aux Philosophes, aux 
Francs-Magons et aux Illumines sur la Revolution Frangaise. 
' Paris, 1822. 

One Hundred Years of Temperance. New York, 1886. 

Parker, Edwin Pond, History of the Second Church of Christ in 
Hartford, 1670-1892. Hartford, 1892. 

Quincy, Josiah, The History of Harvard University. ^^ 2 vols. Cam- 
bridge, 1840. 


Riley, Isaac Woodbridge, American Philosophy: The Early Schools. 
New York, 1907. 

Riley, Isaac Woodbridge, American Thought from Puritanism to 
Pragmatism. New York, 1915. 

Robinson, William Alexander, Jeffersonian Democracy in New England. 
New Haven, 1916. 

Ruttenber, E. M., History of the County of Orange, with a History of 
the Town and City of Newburgh . . . Newburgh, N. Y., 1875. 

Sawyer, Timothy Thompson, Old Charlestown: Historical, Biographical, 
Reminiscent. Boston, 1902. 

Seilhamer, George O., History of the American Theatre. 3 vols. 
Philadelphia, 1888-91. 

Sierke, Eug., Schwdrmer und Schwindler su Ende 4es 18. Jahrhunderts. 
Leipzig, 1874. 

Sketches of Yale College, with numerous anecdotes . . . New York, 1843. 

Sloane, William Milligan, The French Revolution and Religious Re- 
form. New York, 1901. 

Snow, Caleb H., A History of Boston, the Metropolis of Massachusetts, 
from its origin to the present period . . . Boston, 1825. 

The Proceedings of the Society of United Irishmen of Dublin. Phila- 
delphia, 1795. 

Treudley, Mary, The United States and Santo Domingo, 1789-1866. 
(Doctoral dissertation, Clark University). Reprinted from The 
Journal of Race Development, vol. vii, No. i, July, 1916. 

Weeden, William Babcock, Early Rhode Island: A Social History of 
the Peciple. 'New York, 1910. 

Weeden, William Babcock, Economic and Social History of New Eng- 
land, 1620-1789. 2 vols. Boston and New York, 1890. 

Winsor, Justin (editor). The Memorial History of Boston, including 
Suffolk County, Massachusetts, 1630-1880. 4 vols. Boston, 1880-1. 

C. Ecclesiastical. 

Acts and Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 
Church in the United States of America, May 17, 1798. Phila- 
delphia, 1798. 

Backus, Isaac, A History of New England. With Particular Reference 
to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists. (2nd edition). 
2 vols. Newton, Mass., 1871. 

Beardsley, Eben Edwards, The History of the Episcopal Church in 
Connecticut. 2 vols. New York, 1866. 

Blake, S. Leroy, The Separates or Strict Congregationalists of New 
England. Boston, 1902. 

Burrage, Henry Sweetser, A History of the Baptists in New England. 
Philadelphia, 1894. 


Buck, Edward, Massachusetts Ecclesiastical Law. Boston, 1866, 
Christie, Francis A., The Beginnings of Arminianism in New England. 

In Papers of the American Society of Church History, Second 

Series, vol. iii. New York and London, 1912, pp. 151-172. 
Cobb, Sanford Hoadley, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America. 

New York, 1902. 
Cooke, George Willis, Unitarianism in America: A History of its Origin 

and Development. Boston, 1902. 
Dexter, Henry Martyn, The Congregationalism of the Last Three Hun- 
dred Years, as seen in its literature. New York, 1880. 
Dorchester, Daniel, Christianity in the United States from the First 

Settlement down to the Present Time. Revised edition. New 

York, 1895. 
Ford, David Barnes, New England's Struggles for Religious Liberty. 

Philadelphia, 1896. 
Foster, Frank Hugh, A Genetic History of the New England Theology. 

Chicago, 1907. 
Goddard, Harold Clarke, Studies in New England Transcendentalism. 

New York, 1908. 
Greene, Maria Louise, The Development of Religious Liberty in Con- 
necticut. Boston and New York, 1905. 
Hayward, John, The Religious Creeds and Statistics of Every Christian 

Denomination in the United States and British Provinces. Boston, 

Herzog, J. J. and Plitt, G. L., Real-Encyklopadie fiir protestantische 

Theologie und Kirche. 2. AuA. 18 vols. Leipzig, 1877-1888. 
Herzog, J. J. and Hauck, A., Realencyklopddie fiir protestantische 

Theologie und Kirche. 3 Auft. 24 vols. Leipzig, 1896-1913. 
Lauer, Paul E., Church and State in New England. In Johns Hopkins 

University Studies in Historical and Political Science, Tenth Series, 

ii-iii, Baltimore, 1892, pp. 83-188. 
Reed, Susan Martha, Church and State in Massachusetts, 1691-1740. 

Urbana, 111., 1914. In University of Illinois Studies in the Social 

Sciences, iii, 4. 
Swift, Lindsay, The Massachusetts Election Sermons. In Publications 

of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, i. Transactions, 1892-94, 

pp. 388-451. Reprinted as Swift, Lindsay, The Massachusetts Election 

Sermons: An Essay in Descriptive Bibliography. Cambridge, 1897. 
Walker, Williston, The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism. 

New York, 1893. 
Walker, Williston, A History of the Congregational Churches in the 

United States. New York, 1894. (American Church History Series). 


D. Masonic 

(See also Masonic material listed under Sermons, Orations and 

Addresses, and Miscellaneous Works) 

An Abstract of the Proceedings of the Anti-Masonic State Convention 

of Massachusetts, held in Faneuil Hall, Boston, Dec. 30 and 31, 1829, 

and Jan. i, 1830. Boston, 1830. 
By-Laws of King Solomon's Lodge, Charlestown, etc. Boston, 1885. 
By-Laws of St. John's Lodge, adopted May 15, A. L. 5843. Boston, 1844. 
By-Laws of Tyrian Lodge of Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons, 

Gloucester. Salem, 1874. 
Hayden, Sidney, Washington and His Masonic Compeers. New York, 

Heard, J. A., A Historical Account of Columbian Lodge of Free and 

Accepted Masons, of Boston, Mass. Boston, 1856. 
Historical Sketch and Centennial Anniversary of Washington Lodge 

A. F. &■ A. M., Roxbury, Mass. Roxbury, 1896. 
Mackey, Albert Gallatin, The History of Free Masonry. 7 vols. New- 
York, 1898. 
McCarthy, Charles, The Anti-Masomc Party, 1827-1840. In Annual 

Report of the American Historical Association, 1902, pp. 365-574. 
Myers, E. M., History of Free Masonry and Its Progress in the United 

States. Petersburg, Va., 1887. 
Proceedings of the Anti-Masonic State Convention [Vermont], holden 

at Montpelier, June 23, 24 & 25, 1830. Reports and Addresses. 

Middlebury, 183O. 
Sachse, Julius Friederich, Washington's Masonic Correspondence. 

Philadelphia, igiS- 
Storer, E. G., (compiler), The Records of Free Masonry in the State 

of Connecticut, etc. 2 vols. New Haven, 1859-61. 
Surette, L. A., By-Laws of Corinthian Lodge, of Ancient, Free, and 

Accepted Masons, of Concord, Mass. Concord, 1859. 
Waterman, T., (compiler), By-Laws of St. Andrev/s Royal Arch 

Chapter, Boston. Boston, 1859. 

Public and Other Records 

American State Papers, Class I: Foreign Relations, 1789-1828. 6 vols. 
Washington, 1832-1859. 

Annual Reports of American Historical Association, for 1894, 1896, 
1902, and 1912. Washington. 

Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut in America. Hartford, 1786. 

Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 13 vols. 
Boston, 1890-1898. 

Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massa- 
chusetts Bay. 5 vols. Boston, 1869-1886. 


Benton, Thomas Hart, Abridgement of the Debates of Congress, from 

1789 to 1856. 16 vols. New York, 1857-61. 
Charter Granted by Their Majesties King William and Queen Mary, 

to the Inhabitants of Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Boston, 

Charters and "Acts and Laws " of the Province of Massachusetts-Bay, 

with Appended Acts and Laws. Boston, 1726-35. 
Connecticut, Colonial Records of, (ed. by C. J. Hoadly and J. Ham- 
mond Trumbull). 15 vols. Hartford, 1894-5. 
Connecticut Historical Society Collections. 8 vols. Hartford, 1860-1902. 
Dedham Historical Register. 14 vols. Dedham, Mass., 1890-1902. 
Essex Institute [iSalem, Mass.], Historical Collections. 53 vols. Salem, 

Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, from November 28th, 

1780, to February 28th, 1807, etc. 3 vols. Boston, 1801-7. 
Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 17^2-1918. 74 vols. Boston, 
New Haven Colony Historical Society Papers. 6 vols. New Haven, 

The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, etc. 

(Gales and Seaton). 42 vols. Washington, 1834-56. 
United States Statutes at Large. 


Abbot, Abiel, A Memorial of Divine Benefits. In a sermon, delivered 
at Exeter, on the 15th, and at Haverhill, on the 29th of November, 
1798, days of public thanksgiving, in New-Hampshire and Massa- 
chusetts. Haverhill, Massachusetts, 1798. 

Bartlett, Jpsiah, A Discourse on the Origin, Progress and Design of 
Free Masonry. Delivered at the meeting-house in Charlestowfi, in 
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the Anniversary of St. 
John the Baptist, June 24, A. D. 1793. Boston, 1793. 

Belknap, Jeremy, A Sermon, delivered before the convention of the 
clergy of Massachusetts, in Boston, May 26, 1796. Boston, 1796. 

Bradford, Ebenezer, The Nature and Manner of Giving Thanks to 
God, Illustrated. A sermon, delivered on the day of the national 
thanksgiving , February 19, 1795. Boston, 1795. 

Clark, Abraham L., The Secrets of Masonry Illustrated and Explained; 
in a discourse, preached at South-Kingston, before the Grand 
Lodge of the State of Rhode-Island, etc., September 3d, A. L. 5799. 
Providence, 1799. 

Cumings, Henry, A Sermon preached at Billerica, November 29, 1798, 
being the day of the anniversary thanksgiving throughout the 
Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Boston, 1798. 

Cummings, Abraham, The Present Times Perilous. A sermon, preached 
at Sullivan, on the national fast, April 25, 1799. (N. d.). 


Dana, Daniel, Two Sermons, delivered April 25, 1799; the day recom- 
mended by the President of the United States for national humi- 
liation, fasting and prayer. Newburyport, 1799. 

Dana, Joseph, A Sermon, delivered February ig, 1793, being a day of 
general thanksgiving throughout the United States of America. 
Newburyport, 1795. 

Dwight, Timothy, The Duty of Americans in the Present Crisis. Il- 
lustrated in a discourse, preached on the Fourth of July, 1798 . . . 
at the request of the citizens of NevihHaven. New-Haven, 1798. 

Dwight, Timothy, A Discourse on some events of the last century, 
delivered in the Brick Church in New Haven, on Wednesday, Janu- 
ary 7, 1801. New Haven, 1801. 

Eckley, Joseph, A Discourse, delivered on the public thanksgiving day, 
November 29, 1798. Boston, 1798. 

Emmons, Nathaniel, A Discourse, delivered on the national fast, April 
25, 1799. Wrentham, Mass., 1799. 
i- French, Jonathan, A Sermon, delivered on the anniversary thanks- 
giving, November 29, 1798, with some additions in the historical 
part. Andover, 1799. 

Harris, William, A Sermon delivered at Trinity Church in Boston, 
before the annual convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 
Massachusetts, on Tuesday, the 28th o.f May, 1799. Boston, 1799. 
V Kirkland, John Thornton, A Sermon, delivered on the 9th of May, 
1798. Being the day of a national fast, recommended by the 
President of the United States. Boston, 1798. 
,./ Lathrop, Joseph, A Sermon, on the Dangers of the Times, from In- 
fidelity and Immorality ; and especially from a lately discovered 
Conspiracy against Religion and Government, delivered at West- 
SpringHeld and afterward at Springfield. Springfield, September, 

Miller, Samuel, A Discourse delivered in the New Presbyterian Church, 

New York: before the Grand Lodge of the State of New York 

June 24th, 1795. 1795. 

Morse, Jedidiah, The Present Situation of Other Nations of the World, 
Contrasted with our Own. A sermon, delivered at Charlestown, 
in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, February 19, 1795; being 
the day recommended by George Washington, President of the 
United States of America, for publick thanksgiving and prayer. 
Boston, 1795. 

Morse, Jedidiah, A Sermon, delivered at the New North Church in 
Boston, in the morning, and in the afternoon at Charlestown, May 
9th, 1798, being the day recommended by John Adams, President 
of the United States of America, for solemn humiliation, fasting 
and prayer. Boston, 1798. 


Morse, Jedediah, A Sermon delivered before the Grand Lodge of Free 
and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth Of Massachusetts, at, 
a public installation of the oMcers of Corinthian Lodge, at Con- 
cord . . . June 25, 1798. (N. d) 

Morse, Jedediah, A Sermon, preached at Charlestown, November 29, 
1798, on the anniversary thanksgiving in Massachusetts. With 
an Appendix, designed to illustrate some parts of the discourse; 
exhibiting proofs of the early existence, progress, and deleterious 
eifects of French intrigue and influence in the United States. 
Boston, 1798. 

Morse, Jedediah, A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers, and Con- 
sequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America. 
Delivered at Charlestown, April 25, 1799, the day of the national 
fast. Charlestown, 1799. 

[Osgood, David] , The Wonderful Works of God are to be remembered. 
A sermon delivered on the day of the annual thanksgiving, 
November 20, 1794. Boston, 1794. 

Osgood, David, A Discourse, delivered February 19, 1795. The day set 
apart by the President for a general thanksgiving throughout the 
United States. Boston, 1795. 

Osgood, David, Some facts evincive of the atheistical, anarchical, and 
in other respects, immoral principles of the French republicans, 
stated in a sermon delivered on the 9th of May, 1798. Boston, 1798. 

Osgood, David, The Devil let loose; or the Wo occasioned to the 
inhabitants of the earth by his wrathful appearance among them. 
Delivered on the day of the national fast, April 25, 1799. Boston, 

Packard, Hezekiah, Federal Republicanism, displayed in two discourses, 
preached on the day of the state fast at Chelmsford, and on the day 
of the national fast at Concord, in April, 1799. Boston, 1799. 

Payson, Seth, A Sermon, at the consecration of the Social Lodge in 
Ashby, and at the installation of its oMcers, June 24, A. D. 1799. 
Amherst, N. H., 1800. 

Prentiss, Caleb, A Sermon delivered before Mount Moriah Lodge: at 
Reading in the County of Middlesex; at the celebration of St. John: 
June 24th, A. D. 1799. Leominster (Mass.) ...Anno Lucis 5799. 

[Sherman, Josiah], A Sermon to Swine: From Luke xv: 16 .. . Contain- 
ing a concise, but sufficient answer to General Allen's Oracles of 
Reason. Litchfield, 1787. 

Strong, Nathan, A Sermon, preached on the state fast, April 6th, 1798. 
Published at the request of the hearers. Hartford, 1798. 

Strong, Nathan, Political Instruction from the Prophecies of God's 
Word, — a sermon preached on the state thanksgiving, Nov. 29, 
1798. Hartford, 1798. 


Tappan, David, A Sermon delivered to the first congregation in Cam- 
bridge, and a religions society in Charlestown, April 11, 1793. 
Boston, 1793. 

Tappan, David, Christian Thankfulness explained and enforced. A 
sermon delivered at Charlestown, in the afternoon of February 
19, 1795- Boston, 1795. 

Tappan, David, A Discourse delivered in the Chapel of Harvard Col- 
lege, June 19, 1798, occasioned by the approaching departure of 
the Senior Class from the University. Boston, 1798. 

Taylor, John, A Sermon, delivered on the day of public thanksgiving, 
at DeerAeld; Nov. 29, '98. Greenfield, (n. d.)- 

Thayer, John, A Discourse, delivered at the Roman Catholic Church 
in Boston on the 9th of May, 1798, a day recommended by the 
President for humiliation and prayer throughout the United 
States. Boston, 1798. 

Weld, Ezra, A Discourse, delivered April 25, 1799; being the day of 
fasting and prayer throughout the United States of America. 
Boston, 1799. 

Orations and Addresses 

Beede, Thomas, An Oration, delivered at Roxbury, July 4, 1799. In 
commemoration of American Independence. Boston, 1799. 

Bentley, William, A Charge delivered before the Morning Star Lodge, 
in Worcester, Massachusetts, upon the festival of Saint John the 
Baptist, June 25, A. L. 1798. Worcester, June A. L. 1798. 

Bishop, Abraham, Connecticut Republicanism. An Oration on the Ex- 
tent and Power of Political Delusion. Delivered in N ew-Haven, 
on the evening preceding the public commencement, September, 
1800. Philadelphia, 1800. 

Bishop, Abraham, Oration delivered at Wallingford, on the nth of 
March, 1801, before the Republicans of the State of Connecticut, 
and their general thanksgiving for the election of Thomas Jefferson 
to the Presidency and of Aaron Burr to the Vice Presidency of the 
United States of America. New-Haven, 1801. 

Bishop, Abraham, Proofs of a Conspiracy, against Christianity, and the 
Government of the United States; exhibited in several views of the 
union of church and state in New-England. Hartford, 1802. 

Brown, William, An Oration spoken at Hartford ...on the anniversary 
of American Independence, July 4th, A. D. 1799. Hartford, 1799. 

Collins, Alexander, A Masonic Oration, pronounced on the festival of 
St. John the Evangelist, December 26, 1799 . . . In Middletown. 
Middletown, 1800. 

Crawford, John, An Address, delivered at the Grand Convention of the 
Free Masons of the State of Maryland; held on the loth May, 1802, 


— in which the observance of secrecy is vindicated, and the principal 
objections of Professor Robison against the institution, are can- 
didly considered. Baltimore, 1802. 

Dwight, Theodore, An Oration spoken at Hartford, in the State of 
Connecticut, on the anniversary of American Independence, July 
24th, i^gS. ' Hartford, 1798. 

Edmond, David, An Oration delivered at Ridg[e]field on the Fourth of 
July, 1799, before a large concourse of people, assembled to com- 
memorate their National Independence. Danbury, MDCCXCIX. 

Gardiner, John, Esq., The Speech of, delivered in the House of Repre- 
sentatives. On Thursday, the 26th of January, 1792 Boston, 1792. 

[Harris, Thaddeus Mason], The Fraternal Tribute of Respect paid to 
the Masonic Character of Washington, in the Union Lodge, in 
Dorchester, January 7th, A. L. 1800. Charlestown, 1800. 

Hodge, Michael, An Oration pronounced before the Right Worshipful 
Master & Brethren of St. Peter's Lodge, at the Episcopal Church 
in Newburyport, on the festival of St. John the Baptist, June 24th, 
1802. Newburyport, . . . 1802. 

Lewis, Zechariah, An Oration, on the Apparent and the Real Political 
Situation of the United States, pronounced before the Connecticut 
Society of the Cincinnati, assembled at New-Haven, . . . July 4th, 
1799. New-Haven, 1799. 

Lisle, Henry Maurice, An Address, delivered before the Grand Lodge 
of Massachusetts, on the festival of St. John the Evangelist, Dec. 
27th, A. L. JS05 ... Boston, 1805. 

Jackson, iCharles, An Oration, delivered before the Right Worshipful 
Master and Brethren of St. Peter's Lodge, at the Episcopal Church 
in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the festival of St. John the 
Baptist; celebrated June 25, 1798. Newburyport, March A. L. 1799. 

Lowell, John, Junior, An Oration, pronounced July 4th, 1799, at the 
request of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in commemora- 
tion of the anniversary of American Independence. Boston, 1799. 

Mann, James, An Address, delivered December 18, 1799. Before the 
Brethren of Montgomery Lodge; at their Masonic Hall in Franklin. 
. . . Wrentham, 1800. 

Parish, Elijah, An Oration, delivered at Byfield, July 4, 1799. New- 
buryport, (n. d.). 

Smith, John C, An Oration, pronounced at Sharon, on the anniversary 
of American Independence, 4th of July, 1798. Litchfield, (n. d.). 

Stoddard, Amos, An Oration, delivered in the meeting house of the 
First Parish in Portland, Monday, June 24th, 1799 . celebration 
of the anniversary festival of St. John the Baptist . . . Portland, 

Stoddard, A[mos], An Oration, delivered before the citizens of Port- 
land ...on the Fourth of July, 1799 Portland, 1799. 



Backus, Isaac, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty. Against 
the Oppressions of the Present Day. Boston, 1773. 

Backus. Isaac, Government and Liberty Described: and Ecclesiastical 
Tyranny Exposed. Boston, 1778. 

[Cheetham, James], An Answer to Alexander Hamilton's letter, con- 
cerning the public conduct and character of John Adams, Esq., 
President of the United States. By a Citizen of New York. New 
York, 180Q. 

Cobbett, William, A Bone to Gnaw, for the Democrats; or Observations 
on a Pamphlet entitled " The Political Progress of Britain ". Phila- 
delphia, 1795. 
U \y [Ogden, John iCosens], A View of the New England Illuminati: who 
are indefatigably engaged in destroying the religion and govern- 
ment of the United States; under a feigned regard for their safety 
— artd under an impious abuse- of true religion. (2nd edition). 
Philadelphia, 1799. 

Pseud: Effects of the Stage on the Manners of a People: and the 
Propriety of Encouraging and Establishing a Virtuous Theatre. 
By a Bostonian. Boston, 1793. 

[Russell, Jonathan], To the Freemen of Rhode-Island, etc. (n. d). 

[Sullivan, James], The Altar of Baal thrown down: or, the French 
Nation defended, against the pulpit slander of David Osgood, A. 
M., pastor of the church in Medford. Par Citoyen de Novion. 
Boston, 1795. 

The Pretensions of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency examined and 
the charges against John Adams refuted. 1796. 

The Rights of the Drama: or, an Inquiry into the Origin, Principles, 
and Consequences of Theatrical Entertainments. By Philo Dra- 
matis. 1792. 

[Wood, Joihn], A Full Exposition of the CHntonian Faction, and the 
Society of the Columbian Illuminati; with an account of the writer 
of the narrative, and the characters of his certificate men, as also 
remarlis on Warren's Pamphlet. By J — W — . Newark, 1802. 

Miscellaneous Works ' 
Allen, Ethan, Reason the Only Oracle of Man, etc. Bennington, State 

of Vermont, 1784. 
Aufrere, Anthony, The Cannibals' Progress; or the Dreadful Horrors 

of the French Invasion, etc. (Tr. from the German.) Portsmouth, 

New-iHampshire, 1798. 
Barruel, Augustin, Memoirs of Jacobinism. 4 vols. London, 1797. 
iChauncy, Charles, Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in 

New England. Boston, 1743. 


Chauncy, Charles, The Salvation of All Men the Grand Thing aimed 

at in the Scheme of God. London, 1784. 
Cunningham, Aibner, Practical Infidelity Portrayed and the Judgment* 

of God made Manifest. (3rd edition). New York, 1836. 
Du Pan, J. Mallet, The History of the Destruction of the Helvetic 

Union and Liberty. Boston, 1799. 
Dwight, Timothy, Theology: Explained and Defended. S vols. Middle- 

towny Conn., 1818. 
Eulogium and Vindication of Masonry. Selected {and Improved) 

from Various Writers. Philadelphia, 1792. 
Evans, Charles, American Bibliography. Vola. i-viii published. 

Chicago, 1903-15. 
Harris, Thaddeus Mason, Discourses, delivered on public occasions, 

illustrating the principles, displaying the tendency, and vindicating 

the design of Freemasonry. 'Charlestown, 1801. 
Pays'on, iSeth, Proofs of the Real Existence, and Dangerous Tendency, 

of Illuminism, etc. Charlestown, 1802. 
Robison, John, Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and 

Governments of Europe, carried on in the Secret Meetings of the 

Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies. (3rd edition). 

London, 1798. 
Stedman (Edmund Clarence) and Mackay (Ellen Hutchinson), A 

Library of American Literature. 11 vols. New York, 1888-1890. 
The Freemason's Monitor; or Illustrations of Masonry. In Two Parts. 

By a Royal Arch Mason. Albany, 1797. 
The Maryland Ahiman Reson of Free and Accepted Masons. . . . 

Baltimore, 1797. 
The Vocal Compamon, and Masonic Register. Boston, 1802. 
Trumbull, James Hamond, List of Books Printed in Connecticut, 1709- 

1800. Hartford, 1904. 
Webster, Noah, The Revolution in France considered in respect to its 

progress and effects. New York, 1794. 
Wise, John, A Vindication of the Government of New-England 

Churches, and The Churches Quarrel Espoused. Boston, i860. 
Wolfstieg, August, Bibliographic der freimaurerischen Literatur. 2 

vols, and Register. 1911-13. 


The author was born near New London, Ohio, Novem- 
ber 23, 1875. His early education was obtained in the 
public schools of New London and North Fairfield (O.), 
and in the preparatory department of Hiram College. Upon 
completing an undergraduate course in the latter institution 
in 1 901, he received the degree of A.B. Ten years were 
thereupon devoted to the work of the Christian ministry, in 
pastorates at Cincinnati, Ohio, and Angola, Indiana. He 
was in residence at Columbia University and Union Theo- 
logical Seminary for the first half of the academic year 
1907-8. In 191 1 he returned to these institutions, and in 
191 2 received from the former the degree of A.M. He 
completed his residence requirements for the doctorate in 
1913. He worked in the seminars of Professors Shotwell, 
Rockwell, and McGififert, and in addition took courses 
under Professors Giddings, Dewey, Robinson, and Monroe. 
He was called to the position of Dean and Professor of 
New Testament and Church History in Hiram College in 
1913, where his professional service continues.